Georgia Election F**kery: Cast Your Ballot, Win Coronavirus Prizes!
A recent New York Times op-ed wondered how Georgia could've been “so unprepared" for its statewide primary last week. It's an adorably naive question. Yes, as Georgia Democratic Party Chair Nikema Williams said, the June 9 primary was a “hot mess," with malfunctioning or non-existent voting machines and incompetent poll workers. This resulted in voters standing in line for hours to cast a ballot that might've been counted by now ... who knows, really.
However, there's compelling evidence that this mockery of democracy was intentional. It should've been obvious in 2018 when Brian Kemp was elected governor primarily because he actively suppressed the minority vote. Now instead of purging Black people from the voter rolls, Georgia is just gonna expose black voters to COVID-19.
Voting rights activists Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown wrote in the Times about visiting a polling place in south Fulton County where 300 people were still in line at 9:30 pm. This was the Christian City senior living community. That's right, a nursing home or, more to the point these days, a coronavirus resort and spa.
Georgia Elections Show 'The Voter Suppression Machinery Is Working As Designed' | MSNBC www.youtube.com
This surprised the hell out of voters when they found out. Voter Jason Harper reportedly waited
seven hours at the Christian City campus, which is longer than most people ever spend visiting a nursing home even when they have relatives living there. He had no idea he was hanging out in a free-range coronavirus farm.
I'm absolutely shocked. Had no idea ... And I'm very disappointed.
Seems like something you should tell a brother.
Christian City is reportedly one of the worst-hit long-term care facilities in the state. According to the Georgia Department of Community Health, 97 Christian City residents were diagnosed with the virus — 23 of whom died. (That's a horrifying mortality rate.) Nursing home residents and workers account for one-third of Georgia's total COVID-19 deaths as of May 11.
"I'm telling you that I don't think I would have gone to that location had I known," said Harper.
That is both a reasonable precaution and what ratfucking Republicans might consider a “win-win."
Albright and Brown, along with organizers from the New Georgia Project, handed out masks, bottles of water and hand sanitizer at the Christian City polling place, which implies the state didn't bother providing those items for voters. A family with two little girls waited for five hours, and the parents didn't cast their ballots until after midnight.
The op-ed authors claim that while people were still waiting to vote, the police showed up and ordered them to leave, like they were groupies overstaying their welcome at a concert venue. Fortunately, no one was shot in the back, but these are blatant Jim Crow voter suppression tactics. It's not even subtle.
Police encounters like this can lead to injury and death for black people just trying to live their lives. One gesture, or one word, could have added "supporting voters while black" to a deadly list that already includes jogging while black, sleeping at home while black and shopping while black.
These wait times are absolutely unacceptable. No one should have to pay an effective poll tax in order to vote. And during a global pandemic, no citizen of the self-proclaimed “greatest country in the world" should have to choose between their health and their voting rights.
States such as Oregon and Washington already have vote-by-mail. Totally coincidentally, their Black populations are miniscule. Black Georgians make up 30 percent of the state. We all kinda like Chief Justice John Roberts this week, but let's not forget that after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, almost 1,700 voting precincts in 13 states were shut down, specifically in Black and Latino communities. According to the report "Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote," 750 polling locations were closed in Texas; Arizona lost 320, and Georgia shut down 214. Fortunately, the number of Waffle Houses have remained steady.
These are also all “red" states where Joe Biden is showing surprising strength. He's leading in Arizona and within striking distance in Texas and Georgia. Flipping just one of those states might end any suspense on election night. Trump and Republicans in general are desperate. They are facing down the reaping part of the “reap what you sow" expression, and they don't like it. They're pulling out all the stops to suppress the vote. It's shameful. It's almost homicidal. But they won't win, not this time. We've had enough.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).