Early voting has begun in some states, one of which is Georgia. Georgia … part of the deep south that still hasn’t quite gotten over the Civil War … typically votes republican. This election, however, might be different, but not if state officials can prevent it, and they are doing their best to try to.
Let’s start with Gwinnett County, where nearly 10% of mail-in ballots have been … simply thrown in the trash. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution …
The county rejected 390 absentee ballots through Sunday, which represents 8.5 percent of all mailed ballots received in Gwinnett so far, according to state figures. Across Georgia, less than 2 percent of absentee ballots have been rejected. Gwinnett accounts for about 37 percent of all rejected ballots in Georgia.
Problems with rejected ballots are a “red flag” for racial minorities in Gwinnett, where more than 60 percent of residents are Latino, black or Asian, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. It wasn’t clear Monday exactly how many of the rejected ballots came from voters who are minorities.
And then there is the registration problem. Some 53,000 voter registrations have been “put on hold” because of the state’s ‘exact match’ protocol. Under this ‘exact match’ protocol, the transposition of a single letter or number, deletion or addition of a hyphen or apostrophe, the accidental entry of an extra character or space, and the use of a familiar name like ‘Tom’ instead of ‘Thomas’ will cause a no match result.
Before I go any further, it is important to note just who is overseeing the election process in Georgia. That would be Brian Kemp, the current Georgia Secretary of State, who just happens to also be the republican candidate for Governor, running against democrat Stacey Abrams. Does anybody see a problem with this? This is not the first time that Kemp has come under the microscope.
- In 2015, Kemp’s office erroneously distributed the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of registered Georgia voters. This tends to make people leery of registering to vote.
- During the 2016 election, Kemp was the only state official to reject help from the Department of Homeland Security to guard against Russian interference.
- From 2012 to 2018, Kemp’s office cancelled more than 1.4 million voter registrations.
You may remember Kemp from a post I wrote in August about his campaign ad …
Last week, civil rights groups including the Georgia NAACP filed a joint lawsuit against Kemp alleging the exact-match policy, which was signed into law last year, has been “shown to disproportionately and negatively impact the ability of voting-eligible African-American, Latino and Asian-American applicants to register to vote.”And then there was the incident yesterday in Louisville, Georgia. A non-partisan group, Black Voters Matter, was preparing to take a group of about 40 senior citizens from their senior center to the polling place on the day early voting began. The seniors were ecstatic, eager to cast their votes. But before the bus could pull out of the parking lot, they were ordered off the bus. It seems that somebody had called the county commissioner and complained that the bus should not be taking voters to the polls.
LaTosha Brown, Black Voters Matter’s other co-founder, said there was nothing illegal about the group’s activity. The organization is non-partisan and the bus doesn’t endorse any particular candidate. She called it a clear-cut case of “voter intimidation.”
But it isn’t only Georgia that is trying to make certain only lily-white citizens vote. Take a look at North Dakota …North Dakota is the only state in the U.S. without voter registration. Instead, voters have historically been able to verify their identity at a polling station by presenting a subset of many different types of identification showing a date of birth and home address, as documented by the U.S. District Court for North Dakota. These forms of identification included driver’s licenses (in- or out-of-state), a U.S. passport, a tribal ID, a non-driver’s license ID, a federal agency ID, a student ID, a military ID, a recent utility bill, and the like.
Then beginning in 2013 a series of stricter laws were passed, and the end result was that only three forms of ID would be accepted, a valid unexpired driver’s license, a tribal ID, or a state-issued ID card. But the kicker was that said ID must contain a ‘residential address’, in other words a street address. A large proportion of Native Americans living in North Dakota live in rural areas where there are no street addresses, only P.O. boxes.
In 2016, a group of seven Native American voters sued the State of North Dakota and, long story short, the case ended up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the Court upheld the North Dakota law, effectively disenfranchising thousands of Native Americans in North Dakota. Justices Ginsburg and Kagan dissented, saying “the risk of disfranchisement is large”. Some 70,000 North Dakota residents will be unable to vote in the 2018 mid-terms simply because they do not have a street address.
The 2018 mid-term elections are the most important mid-terms of our lifetime, but the states are playing games … costly games that may actually turn our entire election process into nothing more than a sham.