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Will We Be Able To Vote?

Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” joins Ralph to discuss what needs to happen for Americans to be able to vote this November. Plus, Ralph talks about George Floyd, Boeing, and answers listener questions.

Ari Berman is a senior reporter for Mother Jones and a fellow at Type Media Center. He writes extensively about American politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. Mr. Berman was the first national reporter to cover voter suppression during the 2012 election, bringing the issue into the national spotlight. His most recent book “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America is about the history of voting rights since 1965.

“It’s very ironic, that the only major case of election fraud in recent elections was committed by Republicans. And that everyone knew what was happening. But no one did anything about it, which goes to show you that when you have voter fraud, it’s very rare, but when you have it in large numbers you eventually get caught. And that’s what happened in North Carolina. And that election was ultimately nullified.”

Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

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Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 326 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Olivia Shamoon says:


    • Afdal Shahanshah says:

      We should have a whole program on alternative voting methods in general. Ralph should invite on someone from the Center for Election Science to explain to his viewers why Instant Runoff Voting (“ranked choice voting”, as if there weren’t many other forms of ranked voting methods) is a terrible alternative voting method that has failed in its implementation around the world for well over a century to actually get third parties elected and overcome two-party system. I would love for Ralph’s progressive listeners to get educated on vastly superior voting methods such as Approval Voting, Score Voting, STAR Voting, etc. and get them to stop shooting themselves in the foot pushing this ancient awful voting method that still promotes two-party domination.

      • Stoop Dogg says:

        CES is a fraud organization.

        You don’t want RCV specifically to keep the two party system in control!

    • Craig Mead says:

      Blockchain voting with open source tools like eliminates fraud, hacking, suppression, infections, delays, vote flipping, ballot box stuffing and reduces cost to 1% or less. You wake up, pour a cup of joe, flip open your phone or laptop, vote, writein, whatever, print a receipt, email one to yourself or favorite vote auditor, something no other system does, then hours later you can see your vote get tallied exactly as expected. No other method is as secure and easily audited. Mail-ins get burned/tossed/erased/altered and machines are all easily hacked.

      • Skro35 says:

        That sounds good. But it also assumes everyone is wired.

      • Afdal Shahanshah says:

        The problem with hash-based systems of verified electronic voting is that they necessarily eliminate the secret ballot. I think we’re still stuck with hand-counted paper ballots as the gold standard until someone can figure out how to overcome this problem.

  2. Don Harris says:

    The only case of election fraud was committed by Republicans?

    Every election that I can remember has been a fraud.They have been a fraudulent choice between two big money candidates.

    While Bernie may have been worried he would be perceived as the imaginary Ralph Nader that cost the Dems the 2000 election, perhaps Ralph should be worried about being perceived as Bernie.

    It’s time for Ralph to become the Ralph Nader the Dems imagine he is.

    The reason Trump is in office and could be re-elected is the Dems have been offering a false alternative. We cannot let them get away with this again.

    Please stop helping the Dems deception by writing about Trump. We know what he is and will not vote for him.

    Please concentrate 100% of your efforts on making Biden a worthy alternative by putting pressure on Biden to EARN the votes he needs to beat Trump by committing to run a small donor only campaign in the 2020 general election instead of just getting the votes by default because Trump is so bad.

    That is a sure fire recipe for another broken promises Dem that will lead to another Trump that could be even worse than Trump.

    Around 25% of the 130 million or so voters are registered Dems. That’s over 30 million citizens.

    Just one in ten of those Dems contributing 200 dollars would be 600 million dollars. Another one in ten contributing 100 dollars would be another 300 million. Another one in ten would put the total over 1 billion dollars.

    If Biden making the small donor commitment can’t get three in ten registered Dems to make these contributions he is not worth voting for and the Dems are clearly not interested in getting the big money out of our political process.

    You could organize many citizens to demand Biden make the small donor only commitment or we will not vote for him. Together we can make Biden choose between ordinary citizens and the big money interests instead of leaving citizens with only a false choice between big money candidates.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.

    • Afdal Shahanshah says:

      I honestly don’t think there’s anything that anyone can do or say to make the Biden campaign an effective alternative at this point. The man has a very long track record of right-wing anti-worker legislation and positions, and he quite clearly has dementia. The only way Trump could lose in November is if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth and somehow becomes less trustworthy than a guy with dementia. But in the end the result will be horrifying no matter what. I think it’s time to resign ourselves to a horrifying election result and start spending our time on ways to bypass the whole two-party monstrosity. We need to ignore the spectacle and get into the long game by organizing third party resistance and getting our states to adopt competitive voting methods that can get third parties elected.

  3. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Voter suppression is emphatically not just a Republican practice. Democrats just like to do it during their primary elections to shut down progressive challengers. See the massive targeted voter suppression operation orchestrated during the 2016 Democratic Party for a concrete example.

    Really sad to hear another Democrat Party establishment guest invited on the show to spin more McCarthyite “Russian meddling” hysteria. I expected this garbage the moment I saw “senior reporter for Mother Jones”, and I was not disappointed. That publication is a complete disgrace to its namesake–unlike Ralph I would definitely not recommend it. The complete denial of evidence for election fraud near the end of the show cements Berman as a total hack carrying water for the Democrat Party. Election fraud is EASIER today than in ’60s Chicago due to totally unaccountable electronic voting and database systems across the country, full of security loopholes and proprietary software that can’t be audited, and most importantly it’s harder to get caught directly with software exploits that simple cover their tracks after altering the vote tallies. The entire reason that places like Canada and the entirety of Western Europe have REJECTED electronic voting machines is precisely because of how much easier it is to commit computerized election fraud. Just check out the obvious election fraud committed against Tim Canova and his voters in Broward County, Florida recently. Allies of his opponent had to commit a federal crime and destroy the paper trail when the investigation got too hot.

    I wanna thank David for grilling the guest on election fraud. Seriously, what kind of expert on elections theft needs the meaning of “election fraud” clarified for them? I’ve recommended many guests and organizations in the past that can educate Ralph on the other highly neglected method of stealing elections, and he just can’t seem to stop inviting on misinformed people/outright propagandists who handwave it away by refusing to do any homework or research on the subject. There are somewhere around a dozen different national election integrity organizations for a reason. In plain English: election theft consists of voter suppression AND election fraud, and it has been and continues to be committed by both major parties.

  4. Gabe says:

    Especially in light of the brouhaha over Sen Cotton’s op ed in the New York Times, I believe it is time for all media consumers to assume a highly critical view of the role of the media in politics. As such, although I consider Mother Jones to be a reputable and respectable outlet and respect the work it does, I find Ari Burman’s assertion that he is a “just the facts” reporter to be disingenuous and even dangerous. He is certainly not. Especially as media sources proliferate, more and more messages, overt as well as covert agendas, amplify through the growing echo chambers of discourse. I listen to Ralph Nader as I think he’s a good example of an individual who is both faithful to the truth, but also is unabashed about his opinion and point of view – even if his condemnations of Pres Trump are if anything too aggressive… The media is playing an increasingly substantial role in shaping public opinion, and indeed, influencing the result of elections as much or even more than do voting laws do. I think its important to keep this in mind regarding this conversation of voting regulation and election results.

  5. April Smith says:

    Hi Ralph et al.
    Thank you for including a segment on voting. I’m an election security advocate focusing on protecting ballots after they’re cast and ensuring accurate counting. I urge you to invite guests on your show who protect elections from this angle–protecting the VOTE (rather than the voter). Both are critically important, of course, but few focus on making sure ballots, which are counted by secret software and nefarious vendors, are counted correctly.

    I’d also like to correct a common misconception that Mr Berman perpetuated on your broadcast. Touchscreen voting machines that produce a printout are not safe from hacking and are not verifiable by voters. Most of the newer machines print barcodes that encode the votes selected on the touchscreen. The barcodes are counted by ballot scanners as the official votes, but voters cannot verify barcodes.

    These touchscreens (called BMDs–for ballot marking device) are being promoted as safe because they produce this paper. Vendors call these paper ballot systems, or voter-verifiable systems, or backup paper ballot systems. There has been recent academic research published on these machines. Here is one:

    Ballot-Marking Devices Cannot Assure the Will of the People, May 21, 2019 ,
    Andrew Appel Princeton University, Richard DeMillo Georgia Institute of Technology, Philip Stark, University of California, Berkeley

    The Coalition for Good Governance is suing the state of GA over these systems, which the state is installing statewide as standard voting protocol. The Lawyers Committee (along with Free Speech for People and the NAACP) is suing the counties in NC that are installing them.

    It is important that the public understand that these machines are not safe. They are no more secure than the touchscreens that are paperless. They’re a very expensive and unnecessary smokescreen.

    For excellent reporting on this, check (very very slow to load). Brad Friedman has been covering voting (the track conditions, not the horse race, as he says) for years. His podcast, The BradCast, is excellent.

    For efforts to protect votes and verify elections, check out Founder Emily Levy has been guest hosting on WhoWhatWhy podcast and would be a great interviewee herself.

    Thank you!

  6. margaret walsh says:

    good and when the cool last spring days..

    when the amendment “RIGHT TO VOTE” is written..
    write this “corporations, partnerships and legal associations of any kind are not deemed “person”..for purposes of interpreting the constitution. “person” is hereby defined as “Human Being.” ONLY THE SUPER RICH CAN SAVE US rn

  7. Bruce K. says:

    Former Obama speechwriter David Litt has written a book called “mocracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think”.

    He would make a good guest on the subject of voting and all the ways our Constitution has been abused to prevent representation of the people. Government by the people, of the people and for the people. Here is a paragraph and a youtube link to an interview he did recently:

    > According to Obama’s former speechwriter David Litt, the democracy we live in today
    > is completely different from the democracy we were born into. He informs us that
    > we probably don’t realize just how radically our republic has been altered during our
    > lifetimes. Litt contends that, more than any policy issue, political trend, or even
    > Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the
    > peril America faces today.

    > Litt sits down with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court
    > Marriage Equality Case, for a livestreamed conversation exploring the gap between
    > what We, the People want and what our elected leaders do. Drawing from his book
    > Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is
    > Easier Than You Think, Litt pokes into forgotten corners of history, translating
    > political science into plain English and traveling the country to meet experts and
    > activists to explain how the world’s greatest experiment in democracy went awry.
    > With a blend of of moods both poignant and humorous, Litt takes us on a journey
    > to meet the Supreme Court justice charged with murder, learn how James Madison’s
    > college roommate broke the Senate, encounter a citrus thief who embodies what’s
    > wrong with our elections, and more. Join Litt and Obergefell for a clear-eyed yet
    > audaciously optimistic assessment of the dangers democracy faces, and a blueprint
    > for restoring the balance of power in America before it’s too late.

    > David Litt is a former speechwriter for President Obama and author of the bestselling
    > fictional memoir Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years. Since
    > leaving the White House, he served as the head writer and producer for Funny Or
    > Die’s office in Washington, with a focus on improving youth turnout in the 2018 election.

    Litt was also on the Al Franken podcast.