Karen Handel Not So Big On Letting People Vote, Which Is A Good Reason Not To Vote For Her
She's sort of the anti-Joe Quimby. 'She wouldn't vote for you. Or let you vote.'
Now here's one heck of a surprise about the Republican in today's run-off special election for the Georgia congressional seat that used to belong to Secretary Of Killing Obamacare Tom Price: When Karen Handel was Georgia's secretary of state from 2007 to 2010, she was, like many Republican secretaries of state, passionately devoted to voting rights and making sure only the right people exercised them. Yes, imagine that: She was a big supporter of voter suppression, because as everyone in Georgia knows, the biggest problems with democracy is that too many people are allowed to vote.
As a fine article in the Nation explains in detail, beyond her predictable support for Georgia's strict voter ID law -- those are so common they're a given in red states -- Handel really worked hard to keep potentially Democratic-leaning blacks and Latinos from voting in excessive numbers. Shortly before the 2008 election, Georgia purged its voter rolls, because when an election is coming up is the best time to strip people of their vote. Thousands of people had their citizenship challenged, and it's certainly not Handel's fault if a lot of those names sounded foreign. Consider the case of Jose Morales, who used to be a foreigner until he became a citizen in 2007. He registered to vote in 2008, and promptly got a letter from his county telling him he needed to prove his citizenship in court or he wouldn't be able to vote:
Morales drove 30 minutes from his home in Kennesaw to the Cherokee County Elections office in Canton, to give the clerk a copy of his passport. He was told that was sufficient evidence to prove his citizenship and received a copy of his voting card a week later. But a month before the election, on October 7, 2008, he received another letter saying he was still not qualified to vote and had to appear again before the Cherokee County Elections office to prove his citizenship again or else he would be purged from the rolls.
Acting as if the right to vote were some kind of federal case, Morales went to the ACLU, which sued the state on his behalf, claiming the state had violated both the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act, aka the "Motor Voter" law.
Instead of apologizing for throwing up bureaucratic obstacles to a new citizen who simply wanted to exercise our most basic right (other than having a gun, of course), Handel blasted the lawsuit as a sneaky plot to let scary foreigners vote in American elections, writing, "Unfortunately, some groups appear to want to open the door to allow non-citizens to register and vote in the General Election[.]" Yes, that's in response to a citizen insisting he really should only have to prove his citizenship once, not multiple times before voting.
Then even after a federal court ordered Georgia to knock it the hell off and let citizens vote, roughly 4700 Georgians were told they'd have to file a "challenge" ballot on election day and verify their citizenship afterward for their vote to be counted. Of those, only about 2000 actually turned up at the polls, because why would anyone have been interested in voting in 2008 anyway? Following the election, the DOJ found Handel's voter purge had violated the Voting Rights Act:
“African Americans comprise a majority of the registrants flagged,” Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King wrote to Georgia officials. “Hispanic and Asian individuals are more than twice as likely to appear on the list as are white applicants.”
Oh, and then there's Handel's attempts to keep Democratic candidates off the ballot, because she simply cared so much about enforcing election rules, except if they might let Democrats win. In the 2008 race for the Georgia Public Service Commission, Handel disqualified a guy named Jim Powell from running because he owned two houses. Obviously, two homes meant he didn't live in the district he was running to represent -- or at best, had only a half-life there. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution inconveniently pointed out, Powell
had bought a home in the district in 2006, had voted in the district three times, and got his mail, attended church, paid taxes and spent the majority of his time there.
Even following a court ruling that Powell had to be on the ballot, signs at polling places for the primary election said votes for him wouldn't count, because he was disqualified from running. She kept trying to kick him off the ballot in court cases right up until a week before the election, going all the way to the state Supreme Court, which said Powell had to be allowed on the ballot. Would you believe that even despite all Handel's interference, Powell miraculously won? You shouldn't, because her interference had the intended effect. Powell lost to the Republican. But maybe that was because he was weak and bad.
Incidentally, Handel has made an issue of Jon Ossoff's residency in this election, too. While Ossoff grew up in the 6th Congressional District, he's currently living a couple miles outside the district lines while his fiancee goes to medical school at Emory University, which is just like having Nancy Pelosi San Francisco values, you know. Handel missed the chance to demand to see his birth certificate. It's gotten some traction; even MSNBC today asked why Georgia Dems went with a candidate who "doesn't live in the district." Two miles is not carpetbagging, dudes. He'll move back when his fiancee finishes med school, OK?
And of course there's Voter ID, which Handel considers one of her "most important accomplishments," although if you want to get technical, the law went into effect in 2005, two years before she took office. But she defended it in court from the mean civil rights attorneys who think any old citizen should vote, because what about voter fraud (which there was no evidence of, but there was plenty of evidence that the 5.6 percent of Georgians who didn't have driver's licenses were more likely to be old, poor, or black, groups that tend to vote for Democrats (obviously because they like free stuff) Handel's ads against Ossoff brag about how she "fought President Obama to implement photo ID and won,” which is a hell of a claim to make about a law passed and implemented before she or Obama came into office, but by the time some of the lawsuits were finished, sure, Obama's term had started. Yr Dok Zoom might just as well say he was in uniform during Vietnam. Maybe it was a cub scout uniform, but definitely a uniform.
Oh, and then there's the potential security issues with Georgia's voting machines, which, as we've mentioned, Handel was remarkably uninterested in fixing. She asked for a study, then apparently did nothing when the resulting report found serious security issues. But hey, she asked for the report, and she kept a lot of people from voting for Democrats, and if that isn't success, we don't know what is.
Honestly, Georgia. Please don't send this person to Congress.