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COLUMN NINETY-EIGHT, OCTOBER 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
GREG PALAST'S 'LYNCHING BY LAPTOP'
Subject: Lynching by Laptop- Gregg Palast
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 11:15:55 -0700
From: "Peter Coyote" firstname.lastname@example.org
Organization: Wild Dog Productions, Inc.
On the 40th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Washington Monument, BushFlash's Eric Blumrich has released, "Grand Theft America." The two-minute flash animation stars Katherine Harris as the leader of the gang that purged Black citizens from Florida voter rolls by the thousands, handing the White House back to the Bush family. Watch it, download it, pass it on at http://www.ericblumrich.com/gta.html
Plus: Yes! Magazine is publishing our latest warnings on the computer virus known as "Dubya," programmed to disenfranchise Black voters before the 2004 election. Here's a taste of it ...
LYNCHING BY LAPTOP
by Greg Palast and Ina Howard
At the dais, Martin Luther King spoke with the marchers: "We ask a simple question. Do African Americans have the right to vote in the United States of America?"
We have to blink. Speaking is Martin Luther King THE THIRD, son of the late Nobel Laureate-and the year is 2003. Meeting in Birmingham in May, in the run-up to the 40th anniversary celebration of his daddy's "I Have a Dream" speech, King was warning that the man in the White House was hacking the computers - and the result is a legalized attack on the Black voter that could steal away 40 years of blood, sweat, tears and civil-rights victories.
In 2002, with little public notice, Congress passed and the president signed the "Help America Vote Act." When the Bush family wants to "help" us vote, look out. Hidden behind the apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil rights time-bomb.
The new law to "Help America Vote" will eat up $3.9 billion of taxpayers' money, partly to tempt states and
counties to adopt computerized 'touch-screen' voting. Why is King worried? The first elections with computers
produced vote-count horror shows that make one yearn for hanging chads. In 2002, Comal County, Texas, tried out new computer voting machines-and three Republican candidates each won their respective offices with exactly 18,181 votes.
"Isn't that the weirdest thing?" County Clerk Joy Treater asked at the time. "We noticed it right away, but
it is just a big coincidence."
Just down the road in Scurry County, Texas, two unexpected landslide wins for Republican candidates struck election clerks as just one coincidence too many. That county's clerk, Joan Bunch, investigated and found that a "faulty" computer chip had caused the county's optical scanner to record Democratic votes as Republican instead. After two manual recounts and one electronic recount using a replacement chip in the scanner, the Democratic candidates were found to have won by large margins and the original results were overturned.
King is not so naive as to believe vote-count errors are race neutral. In the presidential election of 2000, 1.9
million ballots cast were NEVER COUNTED by tally machines-"spoiled" in the language of elections officials.
But the spoilage rate has a distinctly racial profile: The massive Harvard University Civil Rights Project study released last year found that it was 50 percent more likely for a black vote to be "spoiled" than a white vote. In Florida, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that a black vote was nearly 10 times as likely as a white vote to be rejected.
Machinery, computerized or otherwise, has made the racial bend of lost votes worse. In our investigations in Florida for BBC television of London we found that in 2000 paper ballots read by optical scanners in the county with the highest black population were 25 times as likely to be rejected as those cast in the neighboring majority white county, using the same paper ballots -- but a different automated counting system.
Unlike paper ballots, there's no audit trail on touch screen computers. If the machine is messed with, or even
crashes of its own volition (that's happened a few times with computers), there is no way to tell how people
And it's not just the computers in the voting booths that gives civil rights leaders the jitters. More frightening still is the "Help America Vote" law requirement that every state in the USA imitate Florida's system of computerizing and "purging" voter rolls of suspect voters.
King knows darn well the color of the voters that will be purged - because he saw how the operation worked in Florida. In the five months leading up to the 2000 presidential election, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his
Secretary of State Katherine Harris ordered the removal of 57,700 voters from Florida's vote registries.
The official reason? Those they targeted were felons, ex-cons who had illegally registered to vote. The truth?
Virtually every voter they "scrubbed" from the voter rolls is innocent of any crime-except that the majority were
guilty of Voting While Black. There's no guessing about this; Florida voter registrations include each citizen's
Most of us have become lazy about civil rights. But the old lions of the 60's marches have remained vigilant. The road they have traveled is long and the sacrifices too many to let down their guard.
The ethnic cleansing of black voters from the Florida registries, and the new plan to infect the nation with the
Bush Administration's Jim Crow computer scheme, is the wake-up call for a new activism that must be fought in the Birminghams and Selmas of cyberspace. Now it's your turn. Click in, sign on " to ML King's voting rights petition at http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/petition.cfm?itemid=14993
Get a printable, mail-in version of King's voting rights petition at http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=228&row=1
Greg Palast is the author of The New York Times bestseller "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." Ina Howard is coordinating the petition drive." Sign up for Palast's investigative reports at http://www.gregpalast.com/contact.cfm ##
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