Georgia Voter Purge Makes Strong Case For Return Of General Sherman
After a federal judge gave the go-ahead Monday, the Great State of Georgia announced it would purge more than 300.000 people from the state's voting rolls. Not because they did fraud or anything, but because they didn't vote often enough, at least according to Georgia's dubious records. Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, argued that the cancellations will eliminate about 120,000 voters who would be eligible to vote were it not for Georgia's dumb "use it or lose it" law, which strikes people from the rolls if they haven't voted in a general election since 2012. The remaining people to be purged either moved out of state, or were assumed to be unpersons after mail sent by state election commissars was returned as undeliverable.
What a great day for democracy, with fewer people able to vote!
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said everything was just fine, and that the voter rolls need to be pruned from time to time for the sake of keeping them neat and tidy.
"Proper list maintenance is not only required by long-standing laws but is also important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections," Raffensperger said. "Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote."
Ergo, getting rid of more than a fifth of that number for the crime of not voting seems like nothing, who needs 'em? They'd probably just vote for the wrong candidates anyway.
US District Judge Steve Jones noted that as the case goes forward, purged voters could easily have their registration restored before any election, probably:
"It appears that any voter registration cancellations can be undone at a later date," Jones wrote in his order. "The court's ruling is based largely on defense counsel's statement (at today's hearing) that any voter registration that is canceled today can be restored within 24 to 48 hours."
Taking Georgia Republican officials' word for anything? Well there's your problem.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that the voter purge follows "the largest single removal of voters in U.S. history" two years ago, when more than 500,000 voters were purged by then secretary of state Brian Kemp, who went on to "win" against Abrams in 2018. That election was marked by some jaw-dropping fuckery, like attempts to reduce the number of polling places in some counties, too few voting machines in minority precincts, arbitrary disqualification of absentee ballots, and hours-long lines to vote.
And wouldn't you know it, Fair Fight submitted several statements from folks who were wrongly marked for deletion.
"I voted in the 2016 presidential election and have lived at my address for over 18 years," said Deepak Eidnani of Alpharetta. "I do not understand why I was included on the list of voters who are inactive and might be removed from the rolls."
Another voter, Keme Hawkins of Chamblee, said his address had been incorrectly changed in the state's voter registration system even though he hadn't moved and he had voted in last month's elections. He received a cancellation notice before Thanksgiving.
"I was shocked," Hawkins said. "I was shaken when I opened that mailing. It was scary. I thought, 'Oh my God, they're trying to make me inactive.' "
The Georgia purge follows another voting-list purge in Wisconsin Friday, when a judge ordered the state to remove as many as 234,000 people from the voter rolls because they had not responded to a mailing from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. A conservative group sued the state, arguing it had to purge the voters within 30 days, because what if they might do fraud? Yep, it's that good old "purge by postcard" trick again, and it's really not a very good measure of whether people still live at their registration address, since the postcards look like junk mail to many recipients.
The Elections Commission had planned to hold off on any purge until April 2021, after the presidential election, and is appealing the judge's decision, arguing that a hasty purge would cause confusion for voters in an election year. It's no mystery why the conservative group wanted the purge: Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes, and it sure would be useful to get rid of as many voters as possible.
Some of the highest percentages of voters whose registrations were on the line were in Milwaukee, Madison and areas with college campuses, where residents tend to vote Democratic, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found. More than half of the Elections Commission's letters went to municipalities where Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Trump in 2016, the newspaper reported.
Sure is good to know that the Republicans are so concerned about stopping voter fraud, isn't it? We're so lucky to have them taking very good care of our elections.
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