Politics

BRIAN KEMP IS A THREAT TO GEORGIA’S VOTERS OF COLOR

October 25, 2018

We have all witnessed the lengths Republicans will go to secure elections (and a Supreme Court seat), so would it be a stretch to declare that Georgia Secretary Of State and Republican nominee Brian Kemp is trying to steal the Georgia governorship? No, it wouldn’t, because the Georgia Gubernational election is shaping up to be the historic conclusion of an ongoing voter-suppression battle between Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Abrams is the former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and the founder of the New Georgia Project, started in 2014 to encourage minority voting in the state. The New Georgia Project has sued Kemp and his office numerous times for attempting to use laws like “exact match” — mandating that information on voter registration documents have to exactly match state ID forms — to disenfranchise voters of color. Julie Houk, special counsel for the Washington-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in an HuffPo interview: “We’ve shown that this process disproportionately prevents minority applicants from getting on the voter registration rolls.” With that in mind, she called it “kind of astounding” that Georgia legislators made it a state law in 2017.

In 2016, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that “the state denied 34,874 registration applications from 2013 to 2016 due to mismatched information. Of those, Black applicants were eight times more likely to fail the state’s verification process than white applicants, and Latinos and Asian-Americans were six times more likely to fail, according to the suit.” Civil rights groups sued Kemp’s office, managing to get the Secretary of State to reinstate the 35000-odd registrations. However, The Economist reports that “soon after Mr Kemp’s office agreed to that settlement, Georgia passed a law reinstating the ‘exact match’ requirement, but giving voters 26 months to correct any discrepancies.”

“Exact match” registration verification process and the mass cancellation of inactive voter registrations have been used by Kemp’s office to cancel “over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012,” according to Huffington Post. “Nearly 670,000 registrations were canceled in 2017 alone.” Kemp has denied the claims (obviously), going as far as blaming the New Georgia Project for being “sloppy” when registering voters, which is typical. Your office holds thousands of voter registrations hostage for “mistakes” as banal as a misplaced hyphen and you blame the organization who called you out on it?

What’s more Republican than being allergic to accountability? Blaming your critics for your own wrong-doing.

What we have here is a Trump-loving Secretary Of State with a documented history of voter suppression, running in an election where his office is in charge of the voter registrations. That is what we call an obvious “conflict of interest,” simply because it’s difficult to encounter fairness in a situation where the opposition is also the referee. In fact, that’s usually how dictatorships (masquerading as democracies) are run, so considering Trump is such a dictator-groupie and Kemp is a fan of Trump, it seems to fit.

Rolling Stone released audio of Kemp lamenting Abrams’ efforts to push absentee ballots in the wake of the pending registrations at a “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” event. “They have just an unprecedented number of [absentee ballots],” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.” It’s not uncommon for a candidate to talk about the strategies of his opponent but Kemp is a Secretary of State complaining about all the people of Georgia being able to vote while his office has 53 000 voter registrations on hold. The Facebook page for the event was also removed, which is something that innocent people do I guess.

Of the 53,000 voter registrations currently on hold (indefinitely) in the Secretary Of State’s office, Associated Press found that 70% were people of color in a state where just 32% of the population is Black people. On top of that, some of the people who found out that their registrations were on hold claim they were not notified about the issue. This is problematic considering there is no guarantee that their forms will be cleared in time for the election. With just half a point separating them in polling statistics, 53,000 people (around 37,000 of them being people of color) could make all the difference and Kemp knows that. He said it out loud at the Georgia Professionals For Kemp event.

Civil Rights organizations are practically lining up to sue Kemp’s office for a number of voter suppression-related reasons, including an attempt to clear the pending registrations and get thrown-out absentee ballots reinstated. The most notable group is the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who are suing on the basis that “Georgia’s ‘no match, no vote’ voter registration scheme violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Julie Houk did say she found it “astounding” that it was voted back into law but anything is possible when Republicans are in charge.

Like racism, voter suppression is adapted and manipulated over time. The story of the Black vote in the United States is one of the goalposts constantly being moved. Just because Black voters no longer have to prove literacy doesn’t mean that the Conservatives have abandoned their disenfranchisement tactics. The literacy rule was put in place because Black literacy was illegal before emancipation, preventing the illiterate Black masses from disturbing a status quo that wanted to further undermine their freedom.

Kemp (and the Republican party at large) have spent years cultivating the story of “illegals” and “others” trying to infiltrate elections (which is hilarious because… Russia), using this bogus narrative to justify the con of disenfranchising minorities. Voter fraud is rare. Election rigging is as Republican as, well, election rigging.

Voting is how the American people get to say “we want another story. A different story. One that includes all of us.” Until the electoral college allows for one person to actually equal one vote, it’s imperative that no vote goes to waste.

Use it. Don’t lose it.

Vote!

Related