Georgia Republicans Vow To Never Repeat Mistake Of Holding Fair Elections
Let's not go flinging the word 'hero' around too loosely.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp have justly gotten a lot of media attention for refusing to go along with Donald Trump's repeated attempts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election. Yay for them, they ran what by all accounts appears to have been an honest election, as confirmed in multiple recounts even.
But that's no reason to lionize them as heroes of democracy; it merely means they chose not to be criminals. And as voting expert Ari Berman points out at Mother Jones, Georgia Republicans are now happily using Trump's bullshit claims of massive voter fraud as yet another excuse to make voting harder, especially for likely Democratic voters. One fairly honest election was apparently quite enough for them, and they'd simply rather not bother having to defend election results that don't keep their party in power.
In fact, even as Raffensperger was saying the 2020 presidential vote in Georgia was perfectly cromulent, he also announced an investigation of four progressive groups that he accused of seeking to "register ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters." And of course, whenever Raffensberger talks about Trump's false claims of voter fraud, he takes pains to claim that Stacey Abrams's very real 2018 complaints of voter suppression in Georgia were equally unfounded, because if this Georgia election was clean, then all others must be, darn those false claims on both sides and please ignore the evidence of attempts to keep Georgians from voting.
At the end of November, Raffensperger claimed the groups "have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting," and that if they had done anything illegal, "they will be held responsible." Nothing like a state investigation of a nonprofit to prove Georgia is serious about preventing voter fraud, even though there never seems to be a shred of evidence when the state goes looking for it.
And wouldn't you know it, one of the groups Raffensperger is investigating is the New Georgia Project, which was founded by Abrams with the goal of registering lots of people who hadn't previously voted at all. Raffensperger claimed the group "sent voter registration applications to New York City," presumably to be filled out by inauthentic salsa.
In boring old reality, New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot explained to Berman, nothing like that happened:
She said the group had sent postcards to volunteers, including in New York City, who wanted to send letters to eligible Georgia voters encouraging them to register and turn out on January 5. "Their allegation is we are trying to register voters out of state, which we are not," she said. "It's flimsy as hell—their evidence is thinner than a single strand of hair."
Well heck, inviting people in New York City to encourage Georgians to register is pretty much the same as inviting New Yorkers to register in Georgia, if you're a dishonest fucking liar. There's still a postcard involved.
In another bit of great drama, Raffensperger held another press conference where he waved around some postcards from the New Georgia Project that he said had arrived at the address of his late son, who died in 2018. He triumphantly announced, "We have proof in our own home," which made it into the headline of a local TV story, although the card 1) merely encouraged recipients to register, and 2) Ufot explained the cards were sent to voters listed on Georgia's voter files, or possibly in third-party address lists, and a crime would only have occurred if someone had actually gone ahead and falsely registered to vote.
Not that it mattered, the rightwing mediasphere went nuts and insisted something be done to prevent all these dead people from voting, even if they weren't. Sen John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) went so far as to insist on Fox News that arrests be made, to teach those people a lesson.
None of this is especially new. When Brian Kemp was Georgia's secretary of state, in 2014, he too went after the New Georgia Project. It was registering lots of people to vote, so surely there had to be something fishy about a group that submitted 85,000 voter registration applications. Out of all those, Kemp's investigation found a whopping 50 forgeries, which had been submitted by independent contractors. That's .06 percent of the total. As Berman explains , Georgia law requires groups to submit all registration applications they collect, and then the state determines whether they're legit. (Allowing groups to cull applications would open a whole other kettle of worms, after all.) And Kemp's own investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing. Nobody was charged, but just ginning up fear about Black people voting was plenty of reason.
Oh, and let's not forget how, in 2018, Kemp launched an investigation of the Georgia Democratic Party, accusing it of trying to "hack" election computers when in fact the party had called attention to security problems in the state's election system.
Among other "solutions" to Georgia's nonexistent voter fraud problem, Kemp, now governor, wants to require all absentee ballots be accompanied by a photo of the voter's driver's license or other ID, which as Berman points out , would provide one more hurdle for voters who don't have easy access to printers or copiers. Other Republicans want to ban voting by mail unless people can provide a very good excuse, to eliminate ballot drop off boxes, and to make it easier to throw out absentee ballots.
Again, there wasn't any actual absentee ballot fraud in Georgia. This is all in reaction to Democrats voting for Joe Biden, which in itself is unacceptable to Georgia Republicans.
Ufot, of the New Georgia Project, is right on the money in her diagnosis:
This feels, in a lot of ways, like the last stand for white supremacy and the Republican Party. [...] They are going to break the machinery of democracy on their way out the door.
And it's only a matter of time, we suppose, until some Republican once more invokes United Airlines Flight 93 , explaining that to prevent Democrats winning elections, it's far better to seize the controls and fly straight into the ground, for America.
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