Very Creative Georgia Voter Purge Leaves Like Nine Georgia Voters On The Rolls.
Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican candidate for governor who also gets to oversee his own election because he's the secretary of state too, was quite the busy little ratfucker last year. As part of his official duties, Kemp last year used a sloppy but perfectly "legal" voter purge to purge over half a million Georgia voters from the rolls on the grounds that they probably moved away -- except for how at least 340,000 of them hadn't gone anywhere at all. But unless they re-registered, they won't get to vote, because that's the law. A very stupid law, but the Supremes were perfectly fine with a similar law from Ohio back in June, so red states should feel free to proceed with the voting fuckery.
And yes, the purges hit minority voters hardest, in an election year when Kemp's Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, could become Georgia's first black governor. What a coincidence! (Aw, but don't worry -- Rs would suppress minority votes no matter who the Dem nominee was!)
Reporter Greg Palast had to threaten to sue Kemp's office before it finally released a list of the 530,510 voters whose registration status was switched from "active" to "cancelled" in 2017. Then he had a team of experts in address verification -- folks whose day job is helping corporate types send accurate mail to large customer bases -- sift through the list. Palast describes what they found. "We could not decode about 80,000 addresses — and discovered that 19,118 of the voters had passed away." Oh, so by purging half a million voters, the state got rid of almost 20,000 dead people? Guess THEY won't be voting for Democrats, hurr hurr! As for the remainder:
The experts ran the names through an "advanced address hygiene process," that is, digging through dozens — up to 200 — dynamically updated databases (such as cell phone bills and tax filings), as well as limited-access files at the post office, to get the location of voters. They accomplished this with astonishing accuracy — something the state of Georgia should have done.
Ah, but you see, Georgia doesn't have to bother verifying whether people have really moved, because it has a much better way of deciding they don't deserve to vote: the "purge by postcard" system, as Palast explains.
It works like this: If you miss an election, Kemp sends you a postcard. It looks like junk mail. But if you read the block of print carefully, it asks you to return the card to Kemp after you've filled in the address that's already on the front of the card.
If you don't return the card, and you miss an election, Kemp takes out his eraser and cancels you off the registration rolls.
Easy-peasy, and as we say, perfectly cromulent according to the Supreme Court, because the law doesn't explicitly say "We are doing this to remove brown people and other potential Democratic voters from the rolls, HA HA HA." Now, if you want to get all technical about it, Palast notes this summer's ruling only allows such purges "if the failure to return the postcard is a reasonable indication the voter has moved." However, he adds,
Kemp has steadfastly refused to look at evidence that would show a voter has not moved. (Heck, Kemp didn't even wonder why the purged voters paid Georgia taxes if they had left the state.)
In addition, Palast also found problems with the way Kemp's office used the notoriously unreliable "Crosscheck" system that's supposed to find voters who are registered in two different states. Palast knows all about the many many flaws in Crosscheck, having written the invaluable guide to why it sucks. The system, developed by Kansas's Kris Kobach, is incredibly unreliable, creating "false positive" results that look like it's found duplicate registrations that are actually totally different people. And since some names are especially common in minority communities -- say, Garcia, Jackson, or Park -- the system often flags multiple people with the same name and birth date as if they were one cheating person registered in several places at once.
But Palast's study of the Georgia data found a genuinely novel form of fuckery in how Kemp's office used Crosscheck:
[Our] experts found that 108,000 Georgia voters were also found on the Crosscheck list. Worse, careful review of post office files show 106,000 of these never left the state—yet lost their right to vote because of these supposed moves.
Some did move, but into Georgia—a trick uncovered by none other than Stacey Abrams, Kemp's opponent, who found that error on the Crosscheck list which I showed her for comment.
In one case, Palast contacted a man who was purged because he was registered in both Illinois and Georgia -- but he had moved from Illinois to Georgia 10 years ago. Luckily, Palast got in touch with him before the registration deadline, so he could re-register. Not looking so good for tens of thousands of other Georgians who likely missed the deadline.
One of the analysts who worked with the purge list, Mark Swedlund, said the purge by postcard may not have racial bias written into the law, but it definitely affects likely Dem voters the most:
"It doesn't shock me at all. Response rates are lower among people of color, in particular among African-American renters," he said [...]
"Postcards are the weakest form of mailers to get a response," Swedlund said. "If you use that as a basis for determining whether somebody moved or not, you would be making a very big mistake."
But hey, it's all about the "integrity of the vote," isn't it? Every thread on Twitter about voting, ever, is full of jackholes who just KNOW Democrats have millions of illegal aliens voting for them, so no measure is too extreme. Hell, Palast doesn't even mention whether his team found any undocumented immigrants, which proves he covered them up, right?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported this weekend the US Commission on Civil Rights identified five practices that are particularly likely to disenfranchise minority voters:
requiring government-issued photo identification to cast a ballot; requiring documentary proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or a passport, to register; aggressive purges of inactive voters; reductions in early voting; and moving or closing polling places.
Georgia is the only state that imposed all five restrictions, the commission found. The proof of citizenship law was never implemented, however.
One thing you have to give Georgia credit for: It certainly can't be accused of a lack of creativity in voter suppression. Jim Crow is alive and well -- but here's hoping that the massive turnout we've seen so far can overcome those restrictions.
Palast does note that at least voters who have been purged from the rolls can show ID and cast a provisional ballot at the polls. And then Brian Kemp's office will decide whether to count those. Isn't red-state democracy a fine thing?
[Truthout / Rolling Stone / Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
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