Sorry, Georgia Republicans, But Black People VOTING!
Early voting for the general election began Monday, and you could say there are some signs of considerable voter enthusiasm. Like more three times as many people casting ballots than on first day of early voting in 2014. That would be 69,049 voters on Monday, compared to 20,898 in 2014, according to the Georgia secretary of state's office. NOT BAD, although there were delays in Cobb County (two-hour lines Monday, and THREE HOURS today!) and in Fulton County ("technical difficulties"). Add in all the absentee ballots mailed in by Monday and you get a total of 129,458 votes cast by the end of the first day. So that's pretty impressive! This could turn out to be good news for Democrat Stacey Abrams, who hopes to be the state's first black governor.
Why yes, the worries about voter suppression are still with us, too, and some pretty fishy stuff also arose this week. There will be lawsuits. The good news: Voters are pissed off at the fuckery, and that may actually drive higher voter turnout -- but it sure would be nice to just not have any fuckery in the first place. Can you imagine?
In Louisville, Georgia, about 40 senior citizens at Jefferson County's "Leisure Center" senior center were very excited about boarding a bus to go vote on the first day of early voting. Before getting on the bus from nonpartisan voting rights group Black Voters Matter, the seniors were happily boogieing to James Brown's "Say It Loud — I'm Black and Proud," but before the bus could even pull away from the senior center, a county clerk called the center to warn that taking the old folks to vote might violate a county law prohibiting "political activity" during county-sponsored events. The senior center, after all, is owned by the county, and just look at the very political decorations on that bus -- the word "power," and photos of black people with clenched fists, as well as the group's slogan for its multi-state bus tour, "The South is Rising." Heavens!
Mind you, to keep its tax exemption, Black Voters Matter is strictly nonpartisan and didn't suggest how voters should vote, but somebody got upset and alerted the county anyway, according to a statement given to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
[The] county government considered the event political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans helped organize it, County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement.
"Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party," Brett said. "No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote."
Unknown third party! A DEMOCRAT! Why, no, those do not at all sound like excuses the county came up with at the last minute!
LaTosha Brown, one of the co-founders of Black Voters Matter, wasn't having it, thank you very much, telling ThinkProgress Monday the sudden demand to unload the bus was an act of "live voter suppression."
This is voter suppression, Southern style," said Brown. "I'm very upset. I'm angry. I'm frustrated. I've got a lot of emotions right now."
Brown was still pissed about it Tuesday, and told the Journal-Constitution, "We knew it was an intimidation tactic [...] It was really unnecessary. These are grown people."
As for Evans, the scary Democrat, she said she had indeed helped organize the voting outing, but that she'd done so as a private citizen -- and as a local pastor and community leader -- and not in conjunction with the party. A LIKELY STORY! We all know only Republicans can be nonpartisan, because Democrats are bent on forcing their agenda on people.
After being told they couldn't ride the Black Voters Matter Bus, the seniors were initially told they could take a county van to go vote early, and several got into the van, but that idea was quashed, too, "because the senior center's leaders decided it was close to lunchtime, and the seniors could vote another day." What next? Nurse Ratched decided the oldsters couldn't vote because all the dancing to James Brown got them too tuckered out?
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has called on the county to investigate how this little fuck-tussle of injustice came to happen, calling the incident "an unacceptable act of voter intimidation" that "potentially violates several laws."
Brown was convinced that being told they couldn't take her group's bus to go vote wouldn't deter the senior center patrons one bit from getting to the polls:
"At the end of the day, every senior that got off that bus, not only are they going to vote, but they're going to get five to ten people to vote with them," she said. And by god, there had better not be any sudden cancellations because of a conflict with the senior center's dominoes tournament.
In other Georgia Voting Fuckery, the ACLU announced yesterday it had filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and all county registrars statewide to prevent local voting officials from arbitrarily rejecting absentee ballots (or applications for them) due to a stupid state law that gives those officials the power to trash absentee votes if they decide the voter signature on the ballot isn't a perfect match with the voter's signature on file. Yes, that is entirely different from the state's OTHER "exact-match" fuckery that's been in the news, which requires voter registration to match other official records.
The ACLU says the law forces local officials to act, with no training, as "handwriting experts," leaving the system open to fuckery -- although the ACLU's press release also (sarcastically?) expresses concern for the "hardworking" officials who may make such "errors":
As a result, the constitutional right to vote is at the mercy of subjective handwriting determinations by lay persons without appropriate expertise.
If these hardworking people reject the absentee ballot or application on this basis, Georgia law fails to provide any due process to voters to contest the determination that strips them of their vote.
At the very least, people whose absentee ballots have been rejected should be given the chance to prove they voted legally. As someone whose scrawl seldom looks the same on any two occasions, Yr Dok Zoom is fully in support.
This is at least the third lawsuit this week related to absentee voting in Georgia; Monday, two civil rights groups sued Gwinnett County for rejecting an unusually large percentage of mail-in ballots. The lawsuits accuse the county of rejecting a far higher percentage of absentee ballots from people of color than from whites, if you can imagine that. Gwinnett County's rejection rate for absentee voting is far higher than any other county in Georgia, what a surprise!
Not surprisingly, the county denies any wrongdoing; it appears the county is rejecting ballots because of still another stupid hurdle in Georgia law: The state requires people list their year of birth when they sign their absentee ballot envelope, and Gwinnett County is listing errors with that as the top reason for rejected ballots. Leave it blank or absentmindedly write today's date, and your vote vanishes. Isn't THAT a neat trick, and totally not racially biased by design -- unless maybe it's selectively enforced, huh? HuffPo notes that a similar New Hampshire scheme to reject absentee ballots was found unconstitutional in August, but with the federal courts being packed with rightwing judges, who knows whether voting systems that discriminate will actually be stopped? As long as the laws don't announce "WE SUPPRESS BLACK VOTES HERE," the Supremes seem disinclined to see any problems.
The answer, of course, is for people to stay pissed off and get to the polls. Yes, even if the lines are long. Here's one to inspire you:
And for fuckssake, crank up the James Brown.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.