Stacey Abrams and the lie of voter suppression

Fulton County residents line up at a polling location to cast their ballots early on Friday, Nov. 2, the last day to do so for Georgia residents. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

Democrat Stacey Abrams finally admitted defeat to Republican Brian Kemp in the Georgia governor’s race. Yet rather than gracefully stepping down, Abrams said, “As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.” Here, she relies on false claims of voter suppression by citing a bevy of issues including: voting precinct closures, the Georgia Exact Match Law, voter roll purges and long lines on Election Day. Such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence is quite unremarkable, as I will show you.

Conflict of Interest
As secretary of state, Kemp is responsible for overseeing elections, which is an obvious conflict of interest. Kemp should have immediately removed himself from that aspect of his job once he began his campaign. Despite that, it is apparent that Brian Kemp simply enforced Georgia laws with respect to the election.

Voting Precinct Closures
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August that 214 voting precincts had been closed since 2012 and headlines like “Backlash grows over poll closures in predominantly black Georgia county,” from CBS suggest a racial aspect or motivation to these closures.

Abrams even suggested in an email about proposed closures in Randolph County that a “proposal to eliminate nearly every polling location in a Black Belt county belongs in a history textbook, not the current events section.”

That’s great rhetoric to get voters fired up and angry, but the proposal resulted from Mike Malone, “a consultant hired by the elections board.” When asked the reason for his recommendation, Malone said, “Your polling places are not ADA-compliant,” outlining moldy conditions, electrical problems and a lack of access for those with disabilities.

Abrams would lead you to believe that closures are specifically targeting African-American communities, but truthfully out of the top 15 counties with the most precinct closures, only two are predominantly black.

Even more confusing is Abrams’ accusation against Kemp, because the secretary of state does not make decisions for counties and even he came out against the closures as soon as his office found out about the proposal.

Georgia Exact Match Lawsuit
If you’re unfamiliar, the Georgia Exact Match Law, or House Bill 268, states that “a voter registration application is complete if information on that form exactly matches records kept by Georgia’s Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. If there’s no match, it’s placed on a pending status and the applicant is notified in the form of a letter from the county board of registrars about the need to provide additional documentation.”

A group of civil rights organizations have filed a lawsuit against Kemp in his office of secretary of state. The suit alleges that by upholding the law as it is written, Kemp’s office has violated the 14th Amendment by placing “disparate burdens on minority applicants that are linked to social and historical conditions of discrimination.”

It seems apparent that this law is not effective based on the rate of false flags, errors and slow updates to the driver database. The problem is that all applicants are treated the same regardless of minority status and the secretary of state’s office is simply enforcing state law. If Georgians want the law changed, they should petition the Georgia legislature rather than accuse Brian Kemp of voter suppression.

The icing on the cake is that one of the organizations filing the suit is called the New Georgia Project, founded by Stacey Abrams herself.

This is of course irrelevant because according to Atlanta Magazine, those who are labeled “pending” due to a discrepancy “are encouraged to show up to the polls, regardless.” They then can show an ID that matches what was on their registration and are able to vote.

Voter Purges
If, as a Georgia Voter, you heard that 1.4 million voters had been removed from the Georgia voter registration database since 2010, the response may be outrage and indeed, Stacey Abrams hopped on the outrage bandwagon by broadly claiming that such purges were an attempt to suppress voters.

This, of course, is ignorant of any facts. The overall number of registered voters has grown by approximately 1 million during the period of the purges.

According to Let America Vote, a voting rights organization, some 850,000 of the 1.4 million were purged due to the “use it or lose it” law, passed by a Democrat-controlled congress and governor in 1997.

The law says that if you don’t vote in two or more general election cycles then you are removed from the database. 417,000 others “were removed because they were deceased, ineligible felons, duplicative registrants, had moved out of state, or for other legitimate reasons.”

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for Kemp, responded to these allegations and said, “As secretary of state, Brian Kemp is required by law to keep our voter rolls clean.”

Another inconvenient fact is that “most states conduct large-scale voter removals in non-election years,” which is why most of the purge happened.

Yet again it appears that Kemp is only guilty of doing his job and upholding the law.

Long Lines in Fulton County
Fulton County experienced extremely long lines on Election Day — sometimes longer than three hours. Media attention on the long lines resulted in counties deploying more voting machines and extending hours in several precincts after a lawsuit was filed by the Georgia NAACP.

Community member Joseph Jarrett told the Associated Press, “It’s a damn shame, because people really came out. For their votes not to be counted… it’s like a disgrace to democracy.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center studies these issues and has found that this is a common problem: “Precincts with large numbers of registered voters often have too few check-in stations or voting booths to handle the volume of voters assigned to the precinct… Polling places in urban areas often face design challenges—small, inconvenient spaces—that undermine many election officials’ best efforts to provide adequate resources to these locations.”

Fulton County happens to have the highest population of any other county and contains most of the city of Atlanta. Rather than this being a unique problem, it seems that Fulton County has the same problems as most high-population urban areas, regardless of demographic breakdown.

Based on all available evidence, it is clear that the narrative of voter suppression perpetuated by Abrams is willfully ignorant of Georgia law and lacks basic understanding of the voting process. If Kemp is guilty of anything, it’s upholding the law.

1 Comment

  1. This guy writing this is really ignorant on corruption. Laws in act today are lot of time racially motivated and/or classism. Meaning it will only affect POOR people.. Voting places need to be open in a reasonably place where ALL people can make it ( not have to spend money to take bus to go 1 hour away to vote) because that is part of voter suppression. Knocking people off the voting because they didn’t vote in last 2 years should be unconstitutional but the people running the country are criminals that want to take the rights from the people away to give the few that are politicians will have more power. In a TRUE democracy EVERYONE VOTES ” no question asked”… One vote one person.. Not electoral lines.. No lobbyist because its CORRUPTION ( even if it is legal for politicians to be brided still to most of the PEOPLE we think it’s not right) .. I know you writer have no problem with it because corrupt MEN put america together to help rich and powerful and arrest poor and minorities. The facts are most to all rich white Christian politicians are LIARS, CHEATS and are taking advantage of there positions. What you the writer and the people need to remember is that the people have the power not the government or their corrupt politicians.. The writer probably has no problem with arresting blacks for a joint.. Its a law that even politicians say is racist and bias but they still have it a law. Just because things are a law doesn’t mean it is fair correct or right! Wake up and stop sticking up for corrupt politicians and The real criminals.

Comments are closed.