Civil Rights Teams Struggle Again In opposition to Georgia’s Voter Purges

The importance of the runoff elections to the Senate on January 5th in Georgia should not be underestimated. You will determine which party controls the Senate, with far-reaching implications for economic policy, climate change, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, candidates for justice and much more. The removal of nearly 200,000 registered voters from the voting lists in Georgia could mean the difference between a Republican or a Democratic majority in the Senate.

In October 2019, Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger deleted 313,243 people from the electoral roll, claiming they had moved from their registration residence, one reason for the removal under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). However, five top expert firms hired by the Palace Investigative Fund (PIF) found that 198,351 of these Georgian voters had not moved at all and were therefore illegally removed from the list.

Georgia claimed that thousands of voters had submitted forms for address change in the mail, but the U.S. Postal Service said it did not. Additionally, Georgia allegedly violated the NVRA by hiring an unlicensed contractor who used an incorrect list.

The PIF experts performed a name analysis of the addresses using the advanced address list hygiene. John Lenser, an address hygiene advisor and CEO of the American Fifth Act, testified that this is the industry standard for home address verification. The experts referred to more than 240 data sources. They found an error rate of 63.3 percent. This doesn’t even include tens of thousands of other voters who have been purged for moving to their neighborhoods or apartment buildings, in violation of the NVRA.

“Georgia officials have been exposed to a horribly inaccurate list of voters who they claim filled out postal address change forms,” ​​investigative reporter Greg Palast told Truthout. “The postal service itself says it did not fill it out. They didn’t move. The political hacks that are being used to run the elections in Georgia have chosen this lazy ploy to deter tens of thousands of citizens from voting. “The rejections mainly affect young voters, voters with lower incomes and people of color.

In a previous case, the Georgian Foreign Minister admitted that voters could be re-listed within 24 to 48 hours if necessary. Then why is Raffensperger refusing to reinstate these voters? “It’s a cold, racially venomous game that is brazenly supported by the Republican National Committee attorneys who are desperately trying to bend the upcoming Senate runoff,” Palast said.

Voter registrations were canceled because the Secretary of State alleged that (1) they had submitted a change of address form to the National Change of Address (NCOA) register; (2) Election officials had received a return; and (3) Georgian law in force at the time of cancellation allowed removal if the voter did not return a confirmation postcard after three years of no contact and then did not vote in the next two general elections; This is known as “use it or lose it”.

Four civil rights groups, including Black Voters Matter and Rainbow PUSH Coalition, filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) on December 2. The lawsuit was based on PIF’s expert reporting and the ACLU of Georgia official report released September 1. These experts found that 199,908 voters can still receive emails to their registration address, making them unlikely to have moved.

Plaintiffs are demanding that the nearly 200,000 names allegedly wrongly removed from the electoral roll be restored in time for the critical runoff on January 5th. Alternatively, they seek the appointment of a “special master” – an expert who would review the work of the PIF experts and the secretary of state’s list maintenance experts to decide which voters were wrongly removed from the lists and put them back to use.

The NVRA, which Congress passed in 1993, declares that voting is a fundamental right. It requires that the federal, state and local governments encourage the exercise of the right to vote. And it is called:

Discriminatory and unfair registration laws and procedures can have a direct and detrimental effect on voter turnout in federal elections and disproportionately affect the voter turnout of various groups, including racist minorities.

The Georgian rule “use it or lose it” violates the equal treatment clause of the 14th amendment, the lawsuit alleges, because it creates false distinctions and thereby disenfranchises rare voters.

On December 16, the district judge denied plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction for failing to comply with the NVRA’s 90-day notice requirement. However, the judge said there were disagreements and asked the parties to sit down and try to resolve the case.

On December 28, plaintiffs filed a reconsideration motion and motion for the Palace Investigative Fund to join the case. A letter sent by plaintiffs’ attorney to Raffensperger on September 22 on behalf of PIF would then satisfy the 90-day notice period which expired on December 23.

The plaintiffs also ask the judge to instruct the secretary of state to count the preliminary ballot papers of voters trying to vote but whose registrations for moving have been canceled if they have not moved, as documented by plaintiffs’ experts.

While the Secretary of State is ready to put the people back on the electoral roll, there is no indication that it will be done before the January 5 runoff. The conservative Raffensperger is feeling the heat after being targeted by Donald Trump, who called him “the enemy of the people” for refusing to join Trump’s conspiracy to steal Joe Biden’s presidential election. You counted the votes in Georgia three times and got the same result every time.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have assembled a legal team of dedicated lawyers, including CK Hoffler, President of the National Bar Association; Gerald Griggs, known as “Justice Fighter”; iconic civil rights attorney Fred Gray; and Jeanne Mirer from New York.

“This case is the first of its kind to provide evidence that nearly two-thirds of the people the state removed from the electoral roll because of his move didn’t,” Mirer told Truthout. “Despite the loss of the injunction, we will continue to fight to get these voters back on the list and have their votes counted in the Senator’s runoff election.”

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, said the removal of voters from the Georgia lists was not an issue of electoral fraud but one of “[m]Support of the dial selector suppression. “

Mirer said, “In addition to the electoral repression that deleting electoral rolls represents, we must reflect on the lessons of this last election. When the barriers to voting are removed and states open up the right to vote, the people will vote. “She noted,” This lesson is not going to be lost to Republicans, who believe that if the vote is suppressed, they can only win. “

“The easing of restrictions and the expansion of access to voting during COVID will be sought by the Republicans from the beginning of the year,” predicts Mirer. “All constituencies need to come together and develop a proactive strategy to protect and expand access to voting.” She cited the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, the National Lawyers Guild, Latin American and Asian American groups and unions as some of the organizations that “have worked for years” Protect the right to vote against all attacks. “

The constituencies have not banded together to “develop a proactive strategy to expand voting rights given the level of defense they have had to play,” Mirer said. She believes it is more important than ever for progressive groups to work together in a coalition to combat Republican efforts in 2021 and 2022 “to close the doors to facilitate access to voting that COVID-19 opened.” “. Expect “a rush of movements to restrict access to the ballot”.

In the meantime, Mier’s legal team will continue the fight to get the cleaned Georgian voters back on the list in time for the Senate runoff elections. Biden defeated Trump in Georgia by 12,000 votes. The purged voters could decide who wins on January 5th.

Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Comments are closed.