The 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia was a mess, in which then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp allegedly used his position to aggressively purge voter rolls in order make sure he "defeated" Democratic candidate Stacy Abrams, a Black woman who was hailed at the time as being "unapologetically progressive." The Georgia GOP's tactics were not only egregious, they were also sloppy. But in the end, it didn't matter — they got what they wanted. Kemp "won" by 55,000 votes, and accused the Democrats of meddling or hacking or whatever other excuse he could come up with at the moment. The GOP was already in control of the state (and Kemp himself was already in a position of power within the state), so they could stonewall any effort to stop them from retaining power. Which is precisely what they did. And what they have continued to do.
Now, the ACLU has published a comprehensive new report that analyzes 7 years of voter meddling by the GOP in Georgia — and it's every bit as ugly as expected. From the Executive Summary:
In October 2019, the Georgia Secretary of State published a list of 313,243 citizens purged from the state's voter rolls on grounds they had moved from their registration address. […] We found 198,351 Georgia voters who supposedly moved from their registration addresses who, in fact, have not moved at all, and therefore were wrongly purged, a 63.3% error rate.
Again, this is not a "sampling" of the list, but a detailed name-by-name review of the addresses of the citizens that the Secretary of State eliminated from the state's voter rolls.
The conclusion is conservative, because the 63.3% error rate does not including the of tens of thousands of other citizens who have moved within their neighborhood, some within their buildings. (The National Voter Registration Act prohibits cancelling the registration of those who move within their voting jurisdiction.)
So at least 200,000 voters. And Kemp won by 55,000 votes. Convenient!
The Georgia GOP, of course, insists this was not a "purge" but simply "routine maintenance" on voting lists, something they've done since the passing of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. According to Georgia law — written by the GOP that's long controlled the state — a voter is deemed "inactive" if they haven't participated in an election or had contact with the board of elections in three years.
Just so we're clear: only about 25% of people across the country on average vote in primary elections, and a little more than half of the population votes in Presidential elections every 4 years. So unless you were part of that 25%, the Georgia GOP would actively try to deny your ability to vote.
In order to maintain the maximum plausible deniability, the GOP-controlled government would send out a "confirmation card" to "inactive voters," asking them to confirm their addresses before ultimately purging them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many don't fill these things out — likely, they just glance at the information, see that it's correct, and move on with their lives. And that's exactly what the GOP counted on. "This combination of non-voting and failure to return a postcard cannot be used if it is not 'reasonable' information," ACLU investigator Greg Palast told Hill Reporter. found in its investigation. "As the Georgia confirmation-by-postcard purge captures voters who did not move, Georgia's method is, on its face, unreasonable."
Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, told CNN, "The real takeaway from this is the state of Georgia is using a methodology for maintaining its voter rolls that is both more expensive and less accurate than what industry would use to maintain a high-quality mailing list."
"More expensive and less accurate" is sadly indicative of many GOP governing practices. They insist "Private industry is the best!" then deliberately go out of their way to sabotage government, just like this.
Georgia likely removed nearly 200k from voter rolls wrongfully, report says [Annie Grayer and Pamela Kirkland / CNN]
Image: Bill Smith / Flickr (CC 2.0)