by Greg Palast for Truthout
There’s been so much complete nonsense since I first broke the news that the Green Party would file for a recount of the presidential vote, I am compelled to write a short guide to flush out the BS and get to just the facts, ma’am.
Nope, they’re not hunting for Russian hackers
To begin with, the main work of the recount hasn’t a damn thing to do with finding out if the software programs for the voting machines have been hacked, whether by Putin’s agents or some guy in a cave flipping your vote from Hillary to The Donald.
The Green team does not yet even have the right to get into the codes. But that’s just not the core of the work.
The ballots in the electoral “dumpster”
The nasty little secret of US elections, is that we don’t count all the votes.
In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—and all over America—there were a massive number of votes that were simply rejected, invalidated, and spoiled. They were simply, not counted. Officially, in a typical presidential election, at least three million votes end up rejected, often for picayune, absurd reasons.
The rejects fall into three big categories: provisional ballots rejected, absentee and mail-in ballots invalidated and in-precinct votes “spoiled,” spit out by a machine or thrown out by a human reader as unreadable or mis-marked.
So, as Robert Fitrakis, lead lawyer for the recount tells me, their first job is to pull the votes out of the electoral dumpster—and, one by one, make the case for counting a rejected provisional, absentee or “spoiled” ballot.
Spoiled: over-votes and under-votes
How does a vote spoil? Most fall in the categories of “over-votes” and “under-votes.”
In Michigan, the Green team has found a whole lot of people who voted for TWO candidates for President. These are the “over-vote”—votes that will count for neither candidate.
How odd. While the schools in Detroit are not stellar, its graduates do know that they can only have one president.
Then, some folks didn’t vote at all. They are the “under-voter.”
But, Fitrakis and team suspect, many of these under- and over-voters meant to vote for a candidate but the robot reader couldn’t understand their choice.
Here’s how it happens. Voters in Michigan and Wisconsin fill in bubbles next to their choice. The cards, filled up with darkened bubbles for each race, are gathered and fed through an “optical scanner.” These robotic eyeballs mess up all the time.
This is what Fitrakis, an old hand at vote-machine failures (both deliberate and benign), calls “the calibration problem.”
Are machines calibrated with a Republican or Democratic bias? No, that’s not how it works. But just as poor areas get the worst schools and hospitals, they also get the worst voting machines.
The key is an ugly statistic not taught in third grade civics class: According to the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance your vote will be disqualified as “spoiled” is 900% more likely if you’re Black than if you’re white.
So the Green Party intends to review every single one of the six million bubble-filled cards. They’ll use the one instrument that can easily tell one bubble from two, or one bubble from none: the human eye.
As you can imagine, This will require several thousand eyes. The good news is, Fitrakis reports, that well over a thousand volunteers have already signed up. Training by Skype begins Tuesday morning. . .