We really need to stop pushing this narrative that Georgia is trying to prevent 107,000 people from voting. Sure, Republican Brian Kemp is Georgia’s secretary of state and is currently running against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who, if elected would become the first black governor is the history of the United States.
And, yes, as the secretary of state, Kemp has been using every archaic law to find ways to prevent black folks from voting, but it’s all circumstantial isn’t it?
Republicans don’t have a history of this kind of behavior, do they?
Michael Harriot: Hey, umm, Steve ... this is awkward and I’m going to let you finish but I wrote a whole piece on all the tricks used by the GOP to suppress the black vote.
You can read it here:
Well, it isn’t like Kemp has a history of purging black votes....
MH: Yeah, I hate to stop you again, but Kemp absolutely has a history of making black votes disappear. In fact, I wrote about it in a piece titled:
Ok, fine, fuck it. Brian Kemp is the El Chapo of voter suppression. Now there are reports noting that Georgia officials are using some bogus GOP rule that allows people to be removed from voter rolls if they have not voted in previous elections.
And in Georgia, some 107,000 people have all been purged.
Here’s how The Hill explains it.
An APM Reports analysis found the voters were removed under the state’s “use it or lose it” law, which starts a process for removing people from voter rolls if they fail to vote, respond to a notice or make contact with election officials over a three-year period.
After that three-year span, those who don’t vote or make contact with authorities in two elections can be purged from the voter rolls under the Georgia law.
Such laws, generally enacted by GOP governments, have been growing more common, with at least nine states now having them, according to APM Reports.
MH: Well I hate to tell you this, Stephen, but we really don’t know that. That number you keep quoting by APM only relates to the known number of voters who were purged. It doesn’t count all the other people who might not be able to vote.
If you are registered to vote but present an out-of-state drivers license, you won’t be able to vote. If you don’t have a state-issued ID, but you attend a college, you can present your student ID ... But only if you attend one of these approved colleges.
Even if you registered to vote, presented the correct ID, and cast an absentee ballot, your ballot can still be tossed if they determine that your signature doesn’t match. In fact, the ACLU says 600 absentee ballots or applications have already been tossed for this reason.
OK. But at least they aren’t just tossing the ballots of black voters, so everything should be equal, right? Considering that there are a record 6.9 million registered voters in Georgia, the number of discarded ballots and votes is so small that it probably won’t matter in the Governor’s election.
MH: Not quite. These shenanigans disproportionately target black voters. AMP says black votes were purged 1.25 times the rate of white votes. An AP analysis calculated that 70 percent of the votes on hold by Kemp’s office belong to black Georgians.
Even if this is a small number compared to the overall number of Georgia voters, it still matters in city and county elections. Regarding the absentee ballots, the ACLU notes this:
A disproportionate amount of Georgia’s rejected ballots are coming from Gwinnett County, the state’s second largest, which is reportedly rejecting nearly one in 10 vote-by-mail ballots. Gwinnett is also one of the state’s most diverse counties, with African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians making up more than half the population. It’s also the only county in Georgia that is federally required to provide election materials in both English and Spanish
Wow. It’s been hard enough for Abrams to run a campaign to become the first black woman governor in the United States but imagine how difficult it must be to try and run against the secretary of state who keeps making it harder and harder for black people to vote.
The worst part of the APM investigation is that many of the people who’ve been dropped of the voter rolls list don’t even know that they’ve been dropped and the election is less than a month away.
The claim by those who support the law is that it prevents voter fraud as the theory is that those who’ve not voted in previous elections have most likely moved.
Sounds like bullshit to you? Does to me too.
According to reports, Abrams and Kemp are locked in a tight race, which may become even tighter if the “Wizard of Voter Suppression” keeps reaching into his GOP bag of tricks.
But on November 6, we will see if he was successful.
MH: Well actually...
We can’t forget that Brian Kemp, Stacy Abrams’ opponent, the man who has been suppressing the vote, is also the man who will be counting the votes. We don’t know how many registrations will ultimately be tossed. We don’t know if the people who appealed their registrations were successful. We don’t know how many people won’t be allowed to vote. We don’t know when provisional ballots will be certified. And we can’t forget that Georgia’s voting machines don’t use paper ballots and are unauditable, so there’s that.
Stacey Abrams is in a fight where she has to beat her opponent and then beat the referee because Brian Kemp will end up certifying whether or not he won or lost the election.
So ultimately, we really don’t know anything.