Chutzpah in Georgia: 53,000 Voter Registrations on Hold as ‘Pending”

 

The Yiddish word ‘chutzpah’ is defined as “unusually shocking behavior, gall, nerve, cheek, temerity”.  Here’s the dramatic news that broke on October 12 in the National Press and Cable TV.  Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Republican, running for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams had placed 58,000 voter registrations on hold.  The Associated Press reported that nearly 70 percent of the 58,000 voters were African Americans.

Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams have been waging a very bitter campaign, described as a “toss-up”.  She served as the Georgia House Minority leader, and founded the New Georgia Project ahead of the 2014 Midterm elections.  It was aimed at signing up 800,000 new young and minority voters. If elected, Stacey Abrams will be the first African American woman state governor in United States history.

The New York Times reported that Kemp’s office uses “a controversial method called ‘exact match’ to verify voter applications which in some cases means that individuals can be purged from the voter rolls if their submitted information has even trivial differences from their government identification, such as a dropped hyphen.”

Stacey Abrams campaign demanded that Kemp resign as Georgia secretary of state amid the media uproar.  Kemp responded in an email to supporters that “all 58,000 Georgians on the pending voting lists will be able to vote on Election Day if they meet all the state’s identification requirements.” He added, “Clearly, Stacey Abrams   is afraid to run on  her record.”   Democrats responded that the ‘pending’ status could lead to longer lines at the polling places and might discourage some voters from trying to cast their ballots.  Discrimination against black voters for decades is part of the state’s history.

Myrna Perez, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice said, “Georgia has been a cause for concern , ranging from polling place closures to technical blocking of registration and purges. Georgians deserve fair and accessible elections.” It is important to know Kemp’s history since he became Secretary of State in 2010.  The state purged a total of 1.5 million voters between the 2012 and 2016 elections, reported by the Brennan Center for Justice.

The “exact match system was used by Kemp’s office from 2013 to 2016 , with minorities disproportionately affected according to a lawsuit settled in 2017.However the Republican controlled legislature passed a new law that included it.

On October 13, CNN headlined, “Civil Rights Groups sue Georgia Republican Brian Kemp over 53,000 ‘pending’ voter registrations.   A coalition of advocacy groups has launched a lawsuit to block Georgia from enforcing a practice that critics say endangers the votes of more than 50,000 people in November and potentially larger numbers headed into the 2020 presidential election. “

The argument of The Campaign Legal Center and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under law was that the states’ “exact match” requirement violates The Voting Rights Act, The National Voter Registration Act,  and the First and Fourth Amendments to The Constitution.  The  plaintiffs argue that the “exact match” checks had been shown to “disproportionately and negatively impact voting of eligible African-American, Latino and Asian –American applicants” even before the process was signed into law by the current governor, Republican Nathan Deal in 2017.

Georgia Democrats have kept the story on the front pages and the airwaves through their “Voter Protection Hotline”.  The state party in February became the first in the nation to hire a full time election watchdog in recognition of the different forms of voter suppression over the years in their state. They are in direct contrast to the emphasis during the Trump administration on voter “fraud”. Appointment of a commission to investigate this non-existent phenomenon went nowhere and was abandoned.

The Brennan Center has reported through exhaustive surveys that voter fraud did not exist in the 2016 election despite the president’s insistence that it did.  Donald Trump disputes the fact that Hilary Clinton won the popular vote although all state election results add up to that conclusion.

The lawsuit has no official connection to the Stacey Abrams Campaign. At this point, we do not know how long the court will deliberate and produce a decision.  However, It could prove to be the deciding factor on election day —her share of   “ pending voters” in the tight race versus his.

 

Joyce S. Anderson ……….…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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“I Remember The Laughter….. Uproarious Laughter…..”

 

On Thursday, September 27, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was testifying  before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Senator Patrick Leahy asked her what was the single most powerful memory she had of the assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.  She answered, “Indelible in the hippocampus was the laughter… uproarious laughter as they enjoyed the fun they were having at my expense.”

Dr. Ford,  a professor at Stanford, was drawing on her deep knowledge of the science of the brain. She holds two Masters degrees and a Phd in psychology.   She took the required oath and spoke slowly in a quiet voice throughout her three hour testimony which began with, “I am terrified.” She explained that she was there because she felt “it was my civic duty to testify” when she saw Brett Kavanaugh’s name on the short list President Trump received from the Federalist Society for nomination to The Supreme Court.

Dr. Ford described in detail the small house party she had attended 36 years ago on a summer day when she was 15 and he was 17.   She had gone up the stairs to the bathroom and before she could open the door, she was grabbed and taken into a bedroom by Brett and his friend Mark Judge.   They locked the door and turned on loud music.  Brett threw her onto the bed, groped her body and tried to take off her clothes.  She was wearing  a one piece bathing suit under her sports outfit. Mark joked and laughed along with him.  When she tried to scream, Brett put his hand over her mouth and she had trouble breathing.  Dr.Ford testified that her greatest fear was “that he would accidentally kill me.”  She was sure he was going to rape her when Mark jumped on the bed and they all tumbled onto the floor.

Dr. Ford was able to free herself and run out to the bathroom and lock the door.  She heard “Brett and Mark still laughing” as they went downstairs.  When she came down, she walked out without saying anything to the other girls and boys there.

When she returned home, Christine Blasey told neither her parents nor her friends what had happened at the party.  She was fifteen and stopped going to all social gatherings for the rest of her high school years.  She went  on to college where she earned a Bachelor’s, two Masters and a Phd with a major in psychology.  Now, as a research psychologist at Stanford, she knows she was suffering from PTSD,  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She testified to the senators that the sexual attack by Brett Kavanaugh haunted her until she went to a therapist for counseling with her husband in 2012.  She then shared the details of the attack for the first time with the therapist.  At the hearing, Dr. Ford said, she was 100 percent sure Brett Kavanaugh had sexually attacked her when asked that question by Senator Richard Durbin.

Experts in sexual attacks have proven evidence that two thirds or “71 percent” of women who are sexually molested and attacked never tell anyone.  They feel guilt,  shame, fear of reprisal or other negative reactions.  Since the growth of the  #MeToo movement, this has changed.  A significant example occurred at the hearing after Brett Kavanaugh had given his testimony in the afternoon.  Jeff Flake, Republican, who had announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh after being on the fence, was confronted at an elevator by two women who had survived sexual assaults. They berated him for his decision in loud voices with passionate appeals for him to keep Kavanaugh off the court.  “Look at me when I am talking to you!”  the older woman exhorted.  The episode went viral on cable TV for days.

Senator Flake conferred later in the afternoon with Senator Coons, Democrat, and called for the F.B. I. investigation into Kavanaugh’s nomination that Democrats had been urging for days.  He asked for a delay of one week before a final vote took place in the senate.  The committee agreed to ask President Trump to call for the investigation.  The president agreed after saying that Dr. Ford’s testimony had been “very compelling”.

It is now Monday and only three days have elapsed since the hearing last Thursday.  It appears that the White House and Republicans have been pressing to shorten the investigation.  Senator Feinstein has written a strong letter of protest.  Public opinion has been mounting against Brett Kavanaugh after his angry, emotional answers to questions from senators at the hearing . He blamed a “conspiracy” by the Democrats when questioned about possible “blackouts from beer” in his college days.  He shouted and appeared close to tears when questioned about his high school yearbook notations with sexual context.  Commentators  on Cable TV after the hearing questioned his “ fitness to be a judge on any court” based on his performance under sworn testimony.

We now wait to see if the F.B.I. investigation will continue.  Will the third woman accuser who came forward be contacted and questioned?   Julie Swetnick said she saw Brett Kavanaugh drinking excessively and engaging in sexual misconduct while he was a student at Georgetown Prep in the l980’s.  The F.B.I.  has met with Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale with Kavanaugh.  She told James Roche, a friend who had been Kavanaugh’s roommate at Yale about his exposing himself to her at a dorm  party when everyone  had been drinking.  Roche, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur was quoted in a New Yorker article, “I believe her and support her story.”  He remembered Kavanaugh, becoming. “drunkenly incoherent”  at times at Yale.

There are four more days in the “week long investigation”  Jeff Flake called for.  The clock is ticking….

Joyce S. Anderson ………………………………………………………….