MSNBC: Republicans Purging Minorities to Steal Election, Hack Results

MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who was swift to condemn Republican concerns of voter fraud, was equally as fast at accusing them of plotting to steal the election. Reid’s concern centered on a computer system called CrossCheck which was developed to find duplicate names on the voter rolls so they can be removed. But Reid and her guest Rolling Stone writer Greg Palast, who brought the issue to her attention, accuse the system of targeting minorities. “The system disproportionality targets voters of color who are likely to have common surnames, like Washington or Hernandez,” Reid stated.

According to a quote read by Reid from the creator of the system Kris Kobach, who is the Republican Secretary of State of Kansas, “It is a computer that simply identified matching names, dates of birth, and last four digits of social security numbers.” But that didn’t stop Reid and Palast from spreading speculation and fear. “Just a computer program? It is Jim Crow in cyber space but instead of using white sheets, they are using spreadsheets,” exclaimed Palast.

After pointing to a single case of the system messing up, Palast admitted the blatantly obvious, “Yes, it is not discriminatory, it is just matching first and last names.” But from there, Palast seemed to go off the deep end by bizarrely claiming that people with similar names were somehow absent from the Republican Party. “That means common names. That means Hernandez, Jackson, Wong. That means Democrats! You are kidding me,” he rambled on.

But what about surnames such as Smith, Johnson, Irish surnames, Jewish surnames, or the large groups of Europeans whose last names were changed when they immigrated to the US?

Can you tell us where, what states that you’ve been able to determine this Kobach program is actually being used in,” inquired a concerned Reid. And as would be expected, Palast’s concern was with Republican state leaders:

Well basically, about 28 Republican-controlled voting states. In other words where they have control of the secretary of state. Dangerously in the swing state of Ohio, where the Republican— very partisan Republican chief, he is like the Katherine Harris of Ohio. He’s just burning straight through the voter registrations, burning through black names, removing them from the voter rolls in Ohio. You see it in North Carolina, the other big swing state. And Nevada, we have to look out for, too. The Republicans control that.

Reid implored her viewers to check their voter registration status to make sure they weren’t a victim of the program.

From there, Reid’s concern moved to the current threat posed by the recent hackings by Russian operatives into state voter registration systems. Reid sought Palast’s expertise on that topic as well, and his concern was once again the boogiemen Republicans. “Well, if the Russians from Moscow could get into the machines, imagine the secretary of state— these partisan secretaries of state that we have in charge in Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona,” he warned, “Can they get into their own machines? Oh, yeah. So we have to be concerned.

Transcript below:

MSNBC
AM Joy
September 4, 2016
10:36:54 PM Eastern

JOY REID: Last week we told you about CrossCheck, the system designs to prevent double voting by flagging voters who may be registered in two states at once making them eligible to be removed from the registration rolls. Greg Palast reported in Rolling Stone that the CrossCheck system is deeply flawed often tagging names that don't match as evidence of a double voter. He also said the system disproportionality targets voters of color who are likely to have common surnames, like Washington or Hernandez.

The system was designed and promoted by Kansas Secretary of State, and Trump supporter, Kris Kobach. Kobach defends cro— He denies Cross-Check targets voter of color. He said in a statement to AM Joy, quote, “It is absurd to say that the program targets anyone. It is a computer that simply identified matching names, dates of birth, and last four digits of social security numbers. The computer software doesn't discriminate and it just identifies matches.

And joining me now is investigative reporter Greg Palast. And Greg thanks for coming back, and I want to get your response to what Kris Kobach has said. He said it’s just a computer program, it just matches names, socials— last four digits of social security numbers. Your response?

Tell the Truth 2016

GREG PALAST: Just a computer program? It is Jim Crow in cyber space but instead of using white sheets, they are using spreadsheets! Here is how it works. I just met with Donald Alexander Webster Jr. in the swing state of Ohio he is accused of voting a second time as Donald Eugene Webster Senior. That’s their wonderful sophisticated program for finding double voters, wrong middle names, father and son and junior senior matched.

Yes, it is not discriminatory, it is just matching first and last names. That means common names. That means Hernandez, Jackson, Wong. That means Democrats! You are kidding me. I confronted this guy, Kris Kobach, Mr. Trump’s adviser on immigration, and the wall by the way. And you know, I talked— I confronted him and he wouldn't meet with him, but I confronted him anyway and I showed him the lists were dead wrong.

And by the way, his instructions— HIS instructions say, “Yes, we have social security numbers but if they don't match, ignore the match.” This is nothing but the latest form of computer racial purging. It is one of the ugliest but most sophisticated. And sure Kobach is screaming, so is the Republican chief of North Carolina voting, she was screaming to my boss at Rolling Stone Jann Wenner, you know, that, “We are not really accusing these people of voting twice, but we're removing them from the voter rolls.” Like that?

REID: And let me ask— do you— can you tell us where, what states that you’ve been able to determine this Kobach program is actually being used in?

PALAST: Oh, yes. Well basically, about 28 Republican-controlled voting states. In other words where they have control of the secretary of state. Dangerously in the swing state of Ohio, where the Republican— very partisan Republican chief, he is like the Katherine Harris of Ohio is just burning straight through the voter registrations, burning through black names, removing them from the voter rolls in Ohio.

You see it in North Carolina, the other big swing state. And Nevada, we have to look out for, too. The Republicans control that. And again, I'm not -- I'm not Democrat, I'm not Republican. I'm just very concerned about the racial smell of this operation. Our experts have gone straight through the list, 2 million names that we now have, 2 million names, it is way biased against minorities and the matching system, according to our experts, is laughable and dangerous.

REID: And you know, we want to let voters know, that if you are in any state, you should be checking your voter registration to make sure you’re still on the rolls, cause you don't want to find this out at the polls. And Greg Palast just identified Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada; three major swing states. People should be checking their voter registrations anyway, but this is pretty alarming.

Greg Palast, I recall that back in 2004 you looked into, as well as obviously the 2000 election, some of the shenanigans that went on in terms of, you know, really raising doubts about the veracity of certain states' results. Are you concerned both on the side of removing people from the rolls, but also what Malcolm just talked about [Russian] tampering with the election?

PALAST: Well, if the Russians from Moscow could get into the machines, imagine the secretary of state— these partisan secretaries of state that we have in charge in Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona. Can they get into their own machines? Oh, yeah. So we have to be concerned. I'm mostly concerned, I must admit, about whacking the voter rolls before people get to vote. So, they don't even worry about getting their vote changed, they don't get to vote. That’s where it get very dangerous, if they get into the voter rolls here. And whether it is Republican operatives or from Russia, I don't think that Donald Trump needs help from Moscow when he’s got the people in control of those machines, partisan secretaries of state in charge in Ohio and North Carolina and Arizona.

REID: Yeah, absolutely.

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro