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Republican Brian Kemp Not Letting 53,000 Georgians Register To Vote For Some Unknown (JUST KIDDING) Reason
Look, it's not HIS fault you people have un-American names.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is very, very concerned about the possibility of voter fraud, even though it's virtually nonexistent. That's why he's a big fan of making voting hard -- to ensure that only qualified voters can vote, and if a lot of qualified voters are kept from voting, well that's just tough luck, now isn't it? Maybe they weren't qualified enough. Oh, yes, and Brian Kemp, whose office oversees who can and can't vote, is also the Republican nominee for governor, and is running against the fantastic Stacey Abrams, who could become the state's first black governor. But only if people are allowed to vote for her, huh?
Big surprise: With less than a month before the election, and with the voter registration deadline coming up Tuesday, the Associated Press reports Kemp's office is sitting on over 53,000 voter registration forms that it won't process because there are minor discrepancies between the name on the form and the voter's name in government records. The AP estimates that 70 percent of the voter registration forms being held are from black voters. Isn't that neat?
The registrations are being held thanks to Georgia's "exact match" voter registration law, which requires perfect correspondence between voter registration forms and other records, like Social Security cards or state driver's licenses. Including punctuation. If you're "Mary Smith-Jones" on one form but "Mary Smith Jones" on another, no vote for you -- even if one of the documents was due to a government worker's omission or typo.
The AP cites the example of Marsha Appling-Nunez, who discovered her registration had been placed on hold after she moved and submitted a change of address. Somehow, she disappeared from voter rolls altogether, and her attempt to re-register is now one of the 53,000 on hold at the Secretary of State's office. She's actually sort of lucky: She knows the problem exists because she checked her registration status. She never got a notice from the state, and there's no telling how many other Georgians think they're registered but aren't.
Kemp, who insists his office is completely free of any bias whatsoever, has refused to resign or recuse himself from running the election, because he doesn't have to and doesn't want to, OK? Everything's peachy (ha! ha!) in the Georgia vote, and could you please stop counting the number of times he's been sued by voting-rights troublemakers? Or the fact that in 2014 he launched an investigation into voter registration groups, including the New Georgia Project, which was founded by Abrams in 2013, because golly, a lot of black people were registering to vote all of a sudden, and that HAD to be fishy. Definitely no intimidation there.
Georgia even settled a lawsuit against Kemp in 2017 after voting rights groups sued Kemp in 2016 over the "exact match" policy, which Kemp had put in place in 2010 when he took office. Kemp's office agreed to end the practice because, big surprise, it overwhelmingly affected black voters. If you were wondering why that didn't solve the problem, you may be astonished to learn that almost immediately after the settlement, the Republican-dominated Georgia legislature turned right around and passed a law reinstating exact match, only this time as a statute -- and this time it very generously gave Georgia voters 26 months to get their records in line before their registration was ended forever. If, that is, they knew there was a problem, heh-heh.
Danielle Lang is the senior counsel at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, which was behind the 2016 lawsuit that resulted in the temporary end of "exact match" (and another suit this year that forced Kemp to restore 50,000 voters dropped from the rolls -- that's a different group from the folks in the AP investigation). Lang told HuffPo,
We have explained to the Georgia legislature and to Secretary Kemp repeatedly that the process has really glaring and extreme racial disparities [...] It has been known for years that that's the case in Georgia [...]
That's part of why it was so troubling that after this case settled, having alleged the disparities that we put forward, for the legislature to turn around and reinstate a policy that had kind of documented disparities like this.
Big surprise! Kemp blames ALL the problems not on the "exact match" law, but on the lazy sloppy work of the lazy sloppy New Georgia Project -- the one founded by Abrams, you know. NOT HIS PROBLEM, you see:
Kemp accuses the organization of being sloppy in registering voters, and says they submitted inadequate forms for a batch of applicants that was predominantly black. His office has said the New Georgia Project used primarily paper forms and "did not adequately train canvassers to ensure legible, complete forms …."
His office says "the law applies equally across all demographics," but these numbers became skewed by "the higher usage of one method of registration among one particular demographic group."
You know, maybe it would be better if some people who can't follow basic rules and jump through hoops right didn't have the vote at all, you see? And it's certainly not his fault that some people happen to have weird names with punctuation in 'em, right? Oh, but your Liberal Elitists just want to make excuses for people with stupid weird names as this one excuse-maker on the Twitters made excuses:
Exact Match rules are racist. Full stop. They reject, for example, Quinones / Quiñones, or Smith Williams / Smith-Williams. Also filters out formal surnames (eg Diaz vs Diaz de Delgado)
It's a screen for names with punctuation. Wonder what kind of person has that.
Yeah, or Pajamas T. Soyboy vs Pajamas T. Soy-Boy, amiright?
Voters who find out on election day their registration has been held can still submit a provisional ballot, and who knows, maybe it will be counted, if it's not misplaced or something.
Julie Houk, of the DC-based Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the AP her group warned Kemp he's begging for another federal lawsuit, saying, "We've shown that this process disproportionately prevents minority applicants from getting on the voter registration rolls," and adding it was "kind of astounding" the Georgia lege brought "exact match" back in 2017. This suggests she is rather easily astounded by the utter cynicism of Republicans.
For his part, Kemp laughed off the threat of a lawsuit over "exact match," issuing a statement saying that since midterms are on the way, "it's high time for another frivolous lawsuit from liberal activist groups." As of posting time, it's unclear whether he added, "and by the time that's resolved, I'll already be in the Governor's Mansion, nya-hah!" while twirling a long black mustache that had suddenly appeared on his face.
Besides, unless the legislature also kept careful notes saying "We passed this law to suppress black votes because we really want to discriminate against black people, on the basis of race, that is," Trump's new post-Reconstruction Supreme Court will probably not see any problem with the law, regardless of its effects. And maybe even if the legislature did say it, but there was a typo.
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