Colonels in Mirrored Sunglasses by Greg Palast

by Greg Palast
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
September 6, 2012

Ballot Box, Broadway, Seattle, WA

Image by djwudi via Flickr

An excerpt from Greg Palast’s Billionaires & Ballot Bandits

Here are the facts, ma’am:

In the 2008 election, no less than:

  • 767,023 provisional ballots were cast and not counted;

  • 1,451,116 ballots were “spoiled,” not counted;

  • 488,136 absentee ballots were mailed in, but not counted.

Add it up: in the last presidential election, no less than 2,706,275 ballots were cast—and never counted. I have not included a quarter million (251,936) provisional ballots counted only in part (that is, for some offices).

That’s the official number I’ve calculated from the records of the US Election Assistance Commission.1 Approximately three million votes flushed away are ugly enough. But it gets worse.

In addition to the roughly three million ballots cast and not counted, no less than:

  • 2,383,587 would-be voters had their registrations rejected;
  • 491,952 voters already registered were wrongly purged from the rolls; and
  • 320,000 properly registered voters were simply turned away from the polls when they tried to vote, mostly for not having IDs acceptable to a poll worker.

Add it up again and total grows to no less than 5,901,814 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count. Let’s call it the Missing Six Million.

Karl Rove, when he was senior advisor to President George W. Bush, summed it up perfectly:

“We are beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored sunglasses.”

Rove’s not complaining, he’s boasting about his own accomplishments.

But for strategist Rove, six million isn’t enough. Through several front organizations and affiliates, Rove and his comrades have launched a campaign making brilliant use of the tactics originating from the Red Scare and the War on Terror. Now, instead of the communist lurking under your bed or the al-Qaeda sleeper cell next door, they’ve created a new monster to fear, to hunt, and to destroy: the Fraudulent Voter.

There aren’t any, of course. Or, to be accurate, so few you can literally count them on your fingers—about six in any year—not six million, half a dozen jerks convicted of voting illegally. In the whole country. But in Rove’s echo chamber of fear, in the Voter-Fraud Hysteria Factory, these six become so threatening and dangerous that they will be used to take away the vote from six million.

Tracking ballot-bending tricksters, figuring out how they game US elections and snatch the choice away from the electorate, that’s my job, my beat for more than a decade, for the Guardian newspaper and BBC television, and in 2008, for Rolling Stone.

I started covering the election games in November 2000 when I got my hands on two computer disks from the office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris of Florida. My team cracked the computer codes and found the names of ninety-one thousand criminals—felons—Harris listed to purge from voter rolls.

We went through Harris’ list name by name. We didn’t find felons. But most were guilty of VWB: Voting While Black.

Chapter Two: “Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012”

“Purging” is one way to get rid of legal voters. There are eight more tricks, and I’ll take you through each in turn. It was bad in 2000. It was worse in 2004 and 2008. But in 2012, it will be much worse. And in 2016, worse than in 2012. “Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012” is the title of a column Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June 2011.

It’s not Rove’s prediction: this is his plan to make sure Obama will lose. That’s fine with me—if Rove prefers vanilla to chocolate, hey, it’s a free country. But how Rove plans to take Obama down is contained in the subhead, and it gives me the chills…

Read the rest in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.

Greg Palast is the Author of the recently published, acclaimed book Vultures’ Picnic and the New York Times Bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Palast has investigated US election irregularities since 2000 where he first uncovered Katherine Harris’ purge of thousands of innocent black Floridian voters from the voter rolls, thus handing the White House to George W. Bush.

Palast has since reported extensively on election issues for BBC Newsnight, the UK Guardian papers, Harper’s MagazineThe Nation, Democracy Now! and Rolling Stone.

Palast’s brand new book Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, will be out on September 18. You can pre-order Billionaires & Ballot Bandits from Barnes & NobleAmazon or Indie Bound. Author’s proceeds from the book go to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund for reporting on voter protection issues.

Or donate and can get a signed copy of the book.

MEDIA REQUESTS (Interviews, Review Copies, excerpts etc.) contact us.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and Vultures’ Picnic.


[DS added the videos.]

Sep 5, 2012 by

I sit down with the man who uncovered exactly how the 2000 election was stolen for George W. Bush. He’s chased major evil corporations like BP and Exxon around the world to find out the truth. He’s the thorn in the side of the billionaire criminals like the Koch Bros. and Paul Singer. He also happens to be a NY Times bestselling author. Check out his new book at

Moment of Clarity exclusive interview with Investigative Journalist Greg Palast


Aug 29, 2012 by

FSTV Exclusive Interview with Greg Palast on the RNC agenda

FSTV Exclusive Interview with Greg Palast on the RNC agenda


Aug 29, 2012 by

Greg Palast, Investigative Reporter-BBC joins Thom Hartmann. One of the speakers who took to the stage earlier today at the RNC was Congressman Tim Griffin – who really should be sitting in a jail cell right now. Why’s that? Tune in…

Voter caging…should Rep. Tim Griffin be in jail?

from the archives:

Rove’s Vote Trickster: Caging Explained by Greg Palast

Was Tim Griffin merely a “Rove-bot”? Did Karl Rove write the memos that dunked candidate Griffin in hot water? by Greg Palast