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Georgia Hijinks Are Part of a Larger Attack on Our Democracy

Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. (YouTube screen grab)

Civil rights groups have filed a new lawsuit in order to stop a statewide voter suppression effort in Georgia after the GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp—who just happens to be the state’s Secretary of State as well—led an effort to purge more than 50,000 voter registrations, predominately of black voters, from the rolls just weeks before the November 6 election.

Led by the Georgia Coalition of the People’s Agenda, the local NAACP, and other civil rights groups, the suit (pdf) seeks to halt enforcement of the so-called “exact match” rule that allows the state to purge registrations if any part of their name or other information does not match existing documents.

“Georgia’s ‘exact match’ protocol has resulted in the cancellation or rejection of tens of thousands of voter registration applications in the past,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, also party to the suit. “The reintroduction of this practice, which is known to be discriminatory and error-ridden, is appalling.”

Kemp’s implementation of the rule, as Common Dreams reported Thurdsay, was described as the “definition of a rigged system” by NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, has said she is “deeply worried” that tens of thousands of Georgians are being stripped of their constitutional rights and Abigail Collazo, a spokesperson for her campaign, said “Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters.”

In a tweet on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders urged every single U.S. voter to “vigorously protest this outrageous action” in Georgia.

Sanders linked to an op-ed by New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who argues that “Kemp’s apparent attempt to rig the Georgia election shows in microcosm how democracy in America is failing.”

According to Jay Michaelson, writing for The Daily Beast, the Republican Party continues to wield their “secret weapon” of voter suppression nationwide like a dagger and a sledgehammer, including these five anti-democratic tactics in use in various states ahead of the upcoming mid-terms:

  • Closing polling places in communities of color
  • Purging eligible voters from the rolls without their knowledge
  • Barring felons from voting
  • Voter ID laws
  • Eliminating early voting

As Michaelson notes, each one these tactics “alone is troubling” but taken in aggregate, “they paint an unmistakable picture of Republican efforts to hold on to power in an increasingly non-white nation by making it harder for non-white people to vote.”

Jon Queally / Common Dreams

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