It’s Donald Trump’s America — you don’t have to be subtle:
Seniors in rural Georgia were dancing in the street, preparing to board Black Voters Matter‘s bus to cast their ballots Monday, the first day of the state’s early voting period. But the county administrator ordered the senior center to take the 40 or so elderly African Americans off the bus — an act organizers described as “live voter suppression.”
Black Voters Matter is driving across Georgia in their bus, plastered with photos of African Americans and raised fists, conducting voter outreach and engagement. After speaking with seniors at the Leisure Center in Jefferson County about the importance of voting, they invited them to board the bus Monday to go to their polling place.
But once the elderly people were onboard, Black Voters Matter co-founder Cliff Albright announced that they’d have to get off. Leisure Center’s staff said someone had called county officials and complained that the bus should not be taking voters to the polls, he said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday reported that a Jefferson County clerk had called the senior center, raising concerns about allowing the bus to take residents to vote. The county administrator later told the newspaper that officials considered the bus tour “political activity,” which is barred at county-sponsored events. The senior center is a county-run facility.
There are no laws in Jefferson County or in the state of Georgia prohibiting groups from transporting voters to the polls, according to Brown, who said the elderly citizens “actually requested to ride with us.” Jefferson County is roughly 53 percent black, according to Census data.
Of course, the bigger problems start at the top:
How’s this for an axiom that is especially self-evident: An elected official should not oversee an election in which he is a candidate.
Tell that to Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who is also the Georgia secretary of state and whose major responsibility is overseeing Georgia’s elections, including maintaining voter registration lists and certifying election results.
And of course Georgia is hardly alone:
Kemp is in a close race against Stacey Abrams, the first black woman to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination. Kemp’s decision to continue wearing his election-overseer hat even as he runs for office created an obvious conflict of interest, which he has brazenly exploited.
Last Monday, the Associated Press reported that Kemp’s office is blocking 53,000 voter registration applications. The applications were all flagged by Georgia’s “exact match” voter verification process, which was implemented by the state legislature last year. Under exact match, the information listed on voter application must exactly match information as it is listed either in a state driver’s license database or the federal Social Security database. Even the smallest discrepancy — a typo or a missing hyphen, for instance — can result in a hold on an application.
Proponents of exact match insist that it protects the integrity of Georgia’s elections. In fact, it does the opposite. The system disproportionately burdens voters of color; nearly 70% of the blocked applications belong to African Americans, who by contrast make up only 32% of the state’s population. Far from ensuring a fair election, Kemp’s actions have effectively disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters — many of whom, not coincidentally, are likely to vote for his opponent.
And Georgia is far from alone:
North Carolina's stated reason for shutting down Sunday voting was that counties with heavy Sunday voting were disproportionately African-American, and that African-Americans tended to be Democrats. https://t.co/sbvHZUqWKO pic.twitter.com/jwU3E5cJlx
— Harold Pollack (@haroldpollack) October 15, 2018
Shelby County v. Holder and Perez v. Abbott are two of the very worst opinions handed down in the mostly inglorious history of the Supreme Court of the United States.