Georgia's Election Fiasco
Voter suppression is alive and well in the Peach State.
On Tuesday, thousands of black voters in Georgia's primary election stood in line for hours trying to cast ballots in minority neighborhoods, while their counterparts in white suburbs strolled in and out without a care in the world.
Seven years ago, the John Roberts-led Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and the result of that action was blasted across the nation today on social media. Black voters in many parts of the South are being disenfranchised like it’s the 1960s all over again. You know the situation is bad when the Republican Attorney General of the state describes what is happening as, “unacceptable.”
The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 because of entrenched racial discrimination in mostly the South, but some other places as well. When the Supreme Court essentially invalidated it in a 5-4 decision in 2013, Republican-run states immediately rushed to suppress minority voters, shutting down polling stations, restricting early voting and creating needless voter-identification laws.
Across the South, since the Shelby County vs. Holder ruling, states have closed nearly 1,200 polling places, according to a 2019 report by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Before the court ruling, those same states would have required federal approval before enacting such wildly discriminatory voting practices. That report singled out Georgia, in particular, indicating seven counties in the state had just one place to vote. According to Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, Georgia has closed 214 polling places since the Voting Rights Act decision. In the Atlanta metropolitan area, there are now 80 fewer places to vote. Of course, all that disproportionately affects the state’s black voters.
Georgia, of course, is the state where the governor essentially suppressed-the-vote his way into office. As the state’s last Attorney General, he made the rules for the very election he won by the slimmest of margins over Stacey Abrams.
Kemp couldn’t get his state to open fast enough as the COVID-19 pandemic tore through it. But opening up Georgia apparently only extends to hair salons and bars, not polling places in Atlanta, where voting machines reportedly were breaking down one after another this morning.
The goal in this country should be to get more people voting, not fewer. Get-out-the-vote efforts used to be a bipartisan objective.
But when your party’s entire message is based on division, racism, arming everyone, curtailing women’s rights and giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest of the wealthy, the only way to win is by lying and making sure turnout is as low as possible.
The best way to do that is slash voters’ ability to participate in the most populated areas, where the electorate tends to be heavily minority and votes Democratic. It is not reasonable to expect someone to wait in line more than three hours to cast a ballot.
Republicans can’t win on the issues, so they have to cheat. It’s their only path to victory. With demographic shifts, all signs point to Georgia being an in-play swing state in this year’s general election. Don’t expect what we saw today to get fixed by Nov. 3, no matter how many pearl-clutching platitudes we hear from that state’s Republican-led government.
For Donald Trump and his acolytes, this is all part of the plan.