People’s Agenda Hosts Discussion on Fulton Voter Disenfranchisement
The Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda convened on Tuesday, September 01, 2015, to address these past violations and the implications for future elections.
Some of those violations include:
- failure to provide absentee ballots when voters requested them and not adding absentee ballots to the voter rolls;
- failure to process all provisional ballots;
- sending voters to the wrong precedents;
- giving wrong information to precincts about who was coming to vote and when they were coming to vote;
- failure to add to the rolls voters who registered in a timely manner;
- failure to update the supplemental voter list, failure to timely process address changes and other registration documents; and
- failure to provide official voter lists to all precincts.
Fulton County has promised to buy new training software for their poll workers.
But some advocates and stakeholders wonder if that will solve the problem and guarantee that people’s ballots will be processed properly.
Atlanta, which is in Fulton County, has a large Black voting population that leans heavily Democratic.
“We cannot have that happen in this election or in the Presidential election cycle. They had eleven thousand provisional ballots at one precinct, at Morehouse, we know that. I know they did not count them all,” Helen Butler said at the People’s Agenda meeting.
Others at this meeting stated Fulton was not the only county in Georgia that violated state voting laws and disenfranchised voters.
“We need some lawyers who are proactive in filing lawsuits and injunctions. Those people that voted did not have their votes counted,” Butler said.
“Georgia got its restrictive voter ID law in 2006. All of these impediments we have been watching over the years have been by design. It is about reducing the clout of minorities and African American citizens to keep Republicans in power,” former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), Chair of Moore’s Ford Movement, told APN in a phone interview.
“What they did in Quitman [Georgia] should not be dismissed, it was a serious assault on the African American community,” Brooks said, referring to the false accusations of voter fraud that allowed duly elected Black local officials to be temporarily removed from office.
After many court trials and years later, those accused in Quitman were found not guilty of all charges.
“It was Brian Kemp’s pulitzer prize, in the Republican Party of Georgia, to intimate and install fear in the people in Quitman and to stop them from spreading a movement [of registering Blacks to vote and winning elections] across southwest Georgia,” Brooks said.
The New York Times cited the 2014 midterm elections as the lowest turnout in more than seven decades. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote and no state broke sixty percent.
The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) cites Georgia’s turnout in 2012 at 59.76 percent and 2008 at 53.39 percent. In 1992 it was 74.77 percent and has greatly declined.
Georgia lawmakers have also reduced the early voting time from 45 days to 21, which affects elderly voters, disabled voters, and working poor and minorities the most.
Last year, Secretary Kemp launched a criminal investigation, under the excuse of voter fraud, into the New Georgia Project (NGP). The NGP registered about 85,000 Georgians, including mostly Blacks, Latinos and other minorities.
According to the NGP, forty thousand of those ballots disappeared and were never placed on the voter rolls.
Without the protection of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, there seems to be a trend in Georgia to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially minority voters.
“We need to understand the motive when you see the Secretary of State and Republican leaders, not only in Georgia but across the country, saying there is no need to pass another Voting Rights Act. At the same time we see more states over and over again enacting new laws that are nothing more than impediments to voting rights,” Brooks said to APN.