This story is not about Georgia.
The setting for this story takes place in Fulton County, Ga. All of the characters are Georgians. The laws were passed by Georgia legislators and will affect Georgia voters. But, again, this story is not about Georgia any more than Plessy v. Ferguson–the law that gave us the “separate but equal” doctrine–was about Louisiana trains. It’s a story about how Georgia’s legislature is disenfranchising Black voters.
But this story is not about race.
The actions taken by Georgia legislators will disproportionately disenfranchise Black voters. Nearly one in three Georgia residents are Black, making it the Blackest of the 13 traditional battleground states by far. And in the state’s largest county, Fulton County, registered Black voters outnumber white voters, according to the Georgia secretary of state. But this story is not about Black people.
In the 2020 election, 7 out of 10 white voters in Georgia supported Republican candidates. Eighty-eight percent of Black voters supported the Democratic party. So did 62 percent of Latinx voters and 58 percent of other voters. Aside from white voters, the Republican Party doesn’t have a single racial or ethnic demographic majority in the state, yet Biden only won Georgia by 11,779 votes.
Biden won Georgia because he won Fulton County. Biden won the 2020 election because he won Georgia. Democrats won control of the Senate because they won both Senate seats in Georgia. Because the Democratic Party controls the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives, they control two of the three branches of government. Fulton County was the key.
Republicans control both chambers of Georgia’s legislature. Georgia’s governor is a Republican. So is Georgia’s secretary of state. If Georgia’s Republican legislature, governor and secretary of state wanted to wrest control of national politics and put their party back in control, the logical place to look would be the state’s most populous county. Since the entirety of the Democratic Party’s control of the federal government came at the hands of 11,779 voters, disenfranchising 3.3 percent of Black voters in Georgia’s most populous county is the easiest and most direct path to controlling the national political landscape.
See? This story is not about race. It’s about democracy. It’s about America. It’s about politics. This story is about the politics of American democracy, which makes this story about Georgia...and Black people...and America.
Remember when Georgia’s secretary of state referred 24 cases of election fraud to prosecutors in February, only four of which occurred during the 2020 election? Remember how only one of those cases involved Fulton County? Remember how the person who made the allegations in the case that involved Fulton County stipulated that “at no time did I ever observe any conduct by Fulton County election officials that involved dishonesty, fraud or intentional malfeasance?”
I’m sure you remember when all of the Republicans in the Georgia Legislature voted to pass new restrictive voting laws even though there was no evidence of voter fraud? You might even recall Gov. Brian Kemp, the “Wizard of Voter Suppression,” assured everyone that the state’s new restrictions were not about suppressing Black voters. Perhaps you can recollect how Republicans insisted that legislation in 43 states restricting voter access was not racist and had nothing to do with Black voters.
We’re just trying to make voting more secure, they said. These laws won’t be used to target Black voters, they said. You’re calling these laws “Jim Crow 2.0" and “evidence of white nationalism” without even seeing how they will be used, they said. And, of course, until these laws are enacted, there is no definitive proof that the GOP will use these laws to target Black voters. So everyone waited to see the results.
The laws are being used to target Black voters.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two dozen Georgia Republicans have started a process outlined in Georgia’s newly passed voting legislation that will allow the GOP-controlled State Election Board to replace a county’s entire election board with a “temporary superintendent” who has “full managerial authority of how the county counts votes and staffs polling places.” To start the takeover fueled by baseless claims from white nationalists Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, the state legislature must first request a “performance review.” And which county election board did State Senate President Butch Miller and 22 other Republican lawmakers in Georgia choose to review?
You guessed it: Fulton County, Georgia.
The Associated Press reports:
Under the new law, the state election board must mount a preliminary investigation and hold a hearing within 90 days of a request. The state board could suspend the county board if it finds evidence county officials violated state election law or rules three times since 2018 and haven’t fixed violations. It could also remove the county board if it finds that during at least two elections over two years the board has shown “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence.”
The State Election Board, currently with a 3-1 Republican majority, would appoint a temporary administrator to run Fulton elections if it finds wrongdoing. The county board could seek reinstatement. If the state board refuses, its administrator would remain in place for at least nine months.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the specific rules guiding the State Election Board review process. Would they interview voters? Is the county allowed to defend itself? Would a judge decide whether the evidence is trustworthy or just baseless allegations? Well, here’s the thing:
There are no rules.
That’s right. The law didn’t outline a set of rules for a performance review. So guess who’ll make the rules? That same State Election Board controlled by Republicans. The same state election board that would appoint a single person who would oversee, administer, verify and decide which votes count and which don’t. So far, the legislature or the State Election Board hasn’t asked to review any other county in Georgia—just the county with the largest Black population in the swing state with the largest Black population.
Of course, this is not about race.
So, was it wrong to include “white nationalist” in this story’s headline? Maybe it’s clickbait. Just for shits and giggles, let’s look up the definition of a “white nationalist.”
According to Merriam-Webster, a white nationalist is “one of a group of militant white people who espouse white supremacy.” So would a process that disproportionately affects Black voters and ensured that white voters maintain power describe a “social, economic, and political system that collectively enables white people to maintain power over people of other races”? Because that’s the definition of white supremacy, according to one of the entries in the same little-known reference book called a “dictionary.”
OK, I was wrong.
This story is about America. This story is about politics. This story is about power. This story is about race. But this story is not about democracy.
Definition of democracy
1a: government by the people
especially : rule of the majority...
5: the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges
I apologize for any confusion.