The state of Georgia has implemented laws that are designed to disenfranchise the people including closing polling places, voter ID, and blocking voter registrations in massive purges. In the latest twist, an estimate of more than 53,000 voter applications have been removed from the system. The more unusual aspect of this is that the campaign of voter suppression in Georgia is being implemented by the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp who also happens to be the Republican nominee for governor in November’s election.
A majority of those voters who are seeing new barriers to voting under these new laws appear to be black voters, by and large supporters of Kemp’s Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams. Abrams also happens to be attempting to become the first black woman governor in the country’s history.
Welcome to America in 2018.
According to Myrna Pérez deputy director of the election watchdog Brennan Center for Justice, “Georgia has been a cause for concern for a number of policies, ranging from polling place closures to technical blocking of registration and purges, and Georgians deserve fair and accessible elections.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law and the Campaign Legal Center, two leading voter advocacy groups, filed a complaint on Thursday which could stop at least the practice of mass voter purges and have Georgia restore the names of affected voters. The lawsuit says the policy interrupts the 1965 Voting Right Act which says it is designed, “aims to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution”.
Also, the lawsuit claims Georgia violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 which improved opportunities for every American voter and made it easier for Americans to register to vote and also maintain their registration and the and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams raised her concerns about the allegations by tweet, calling the news “déjà vu” from Republicans”:
Feels like deja vu: 4 years ago, Kemp tried to keep 40k new voters off the rolls. It took a few years, but we beat him. A few months ago, he tried to close polling places, but we beat him there too. Now he’s at it again, and we’ll beat him – again. 1/2 https://t.co/CDNcPantNE
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) October 11, 2018
Brian Kemp has rejected the accusation of intentional voter suppression in Georgia saying he had to act to fix careless voter registration work by liberal groups, a claim he has made before. But with every new move Kemp has made concerning voting laws in his role as Secretary of State, new concerns keep appearing.
Wednesday night, his campaign sent an email to supporters claiming falsely that “that all 53,000 Georgians now on the pending voting lists will still be able to vote on Election Day, if they meet all the state’s other identification requirements”. Democrats were quick to point out that was only the half truth. Apparently those 53,000, mostly black voters, can expect, “longer lines and confusion at polling places”.
An incumbent is changing election laws to their own benefit for the election in three weeks time. Is this democracy?