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 ……….…………………………………………………………………………………………………..