“You have to understand that this is an election year… It’s a political game. When you are in charge, when you are the one making the shots, you’re going to do what’s in your best interest to maintain your power.”
– State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D), of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, after a recent meeting with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office is allegedly holding up processing thousands of voter registration forms
There is no such thing as a sure bet in gambling, but there is one thing in politics that has great odds. Those who control ballot access usually win. Gerrymandering is only one popular tool lawmakers use to achieve a victory for those in power. It is a thumb on the scale for electoral homogeneity.
Then there are the more nefarious laws that impede a voter’s access, like requiring voter ID. The governor of Pennsylvania made an infamously outrageous admission to that effect during the 2012 presidential campaign, stating that was the express purpose of his state’s voter ID law.
In Georgia, the Secretary of State is believed to be holding up processing 51,000 voter registrations acquired and submitted by an organization called New Georgia Project, a left leaning group led by Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptists Church (Martin Luther King, Jr’s former pulpit) and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta). In total, the group has submitted 85,000 forms from across Georgia.
The reason for the hold up of voter registration forms, according to Secretary Brian Kemp’s office, is “The presence of” 25 “confirmed forgeries… Each instance of forgery can result in multiple felonies and the Office of the Secretary of State has a constitutional obligation to pursue every illegal act to the full extent of the law.”
Therefor, NGP has been subpoenaed by investigators to come up with reams of information by this Friday. Kemp’s spokesman, Jared Thomas, admitted to MSNBC, “that investigators had no evidence suggesting that NGP as an organization was responsible for the fraud. ‘We have not found anything that leads us to believe that this was orchestrated by leadership of the group,’ Thomas said.”
Thomas’ claim means that it is not NGP, but “alleged voter registration fraud by some workers” in the organization that is being investigated, the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out.
The allegations do not necessarily point to some grand conspiracy on the part of Georgia’s Democrats. Both the AJC and MSNBC cite “national experts” who say that in registration drives like this, “it is not unusual to have some problematic forms.”
Kemp’s objectivity was questioned after he told a Republican Party rally in July that his party was going to be challenged in the upcoming elections by voter registration drives conducted by left leaning groups, like the NGP. GOP stalwarts enjoy a good dog whistle, so Kemp made sure his comments included more ACORNs than fell on Ashley Wilkes’ head at Twelve Oaks.
“Everybody remembers ACORN, right,” he rhetorically asked those at the meeting, then refreshed their memories with the hit job the GOP put on the defunct community services group. “When ACORN was out registering people to vote, they were filling out applications. They were sending stuff in. You don’t know who these people are, where they’re from, the people they’re registering and the people that are filling those out.”
To be fair, Kemp was using the ACORN example as a counter to the perceived authenticity of a state administered web and smartphone voter registration app manged by his office. But his inference was clear that old fashioned, grassroots voter registration drives, where organizations go door-to-door to sign up new voters, were legitimately questionable from the start, because their methods resemble ACORN’s.
“You know, the Democrats are working hard,” he warned the party faithful, “You hear all these stories about them registering all these minority voters that are out there, and others that are sitting on the sidelines. If they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” He then instructed them to get out their cellphones and get folks registered through a process he promised his office would certify.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), who is in a very tight reelection battle against Democratic State Sen. Jason Carter, is leaving it up to Kemp to see this through, but that hasn’t kept him from injecting himself into another Georgia 2014 electoral controversy.
Three Georgia counties, and possibly a fourth, including heavily Democratic DeKalb County, have decided to open at least one polling place on the last Sunday of early voting in the state. Sunday voting has not been an option in the Peach State since advanced voting was implemented in 2008.
The irony is that if it weren’t for the Supreme Court striking down the preclearance formula of the Voting Rights Act, last year, the counties would not have been able to make these voting changes unilaterally. They would have had to have gone through the U.S. Department of Justice.
That is irksome to state Republican lawmakers. State Rep. Fran Millar, from the small portion of DeKalb that is not a haven for Democrats, vented on his Facebook page that at least one of the places open for voting that Sunday is “dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches” and he promised to “try to eliminate this election law loophole [during the next legislative session] in January.”
Besides the heavily African American area that Millar was complaining about, DeKalb’s acting CEO, Lee May, also added Sunday voting to two other parts of the county where there are Republican voters.
Rather than encouraging other counties to take similar action and expand ballot access statewide, Millar found it more prudent to complain about people he’s afraid of having a say in who controls Georgia. “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters,” he wrote in response to several comments on his ill conceived post. Despite his later correcting himself, saying he meant “informed” not “educated,” there is little doubt he has no problem with poorly educated Whites voting.
Deal has vowed to close that “loophole” in the 2015 state legislative session, if he’s still governor. After all, what good is being able to write the rules to the game if you can’t change them to your advantage?
“It apparently has a partisan purpose,” Deal told reporters earlier this month, pointing to the heavily Democratic areas where the precincts are scheduled to be open, October 26. Then the man who signed the bill prior to the 2012 election cutting the early voting period in half, added, without a hint of sarcasm, “I don’t think anything that has to do with elections should be tilted one way or the other for partisan purposes.”