Democratic representative, Stacey Adams, won a small victory when the district judge decided to move forward her lawsuit over serious flaws in the Georgia election process last November. Judging from an overabundance of complaints, thousands of voters were prevented from giving their vote at the governor election last November.
Stacey Adams decided to file a suit asking for the reinstatement of “Voting Rights Act” in Georgia. If approved, this would once more put the entire election process under federal supervision.
Different obstacles disrupted the voting process all around the state, including annulled votes, canceled registrations, and malfunctioning equipment. African-American voters were the most affected by these hurdles, according to the calls made to the hotline Democrats set up on the election day. Consequently, this lawsuit encompasses both civil and voting rights. Its focus is on minority voters being targeted with these restrictions.
If Stacey Adams succeeds in pushing through this lawsuit, it will reenact the voting protection law that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act from 1965, that put Georgia and several other states with the history of the violation of the election process under federal supervision. This meant that the state regained the right to organize and change elections on their own, without seeking the permission of federal authorities.
However, pushing this demand will be an uphill battle. The main reason for it is that the complainants have to prove that the authorities deliberately distorted the whole election process. Still, Abrams and her colleagues are willing to make an effort.
According to the plaintiffs’ representative, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, there has been serious pressure on voters in Georgia since 2013. She also claims that minority voters have experienced major difficulties every time they wanted to fulfill their civic duty and participate in elections.
The Georgia officials, however, state that these allegations aren’t rooted in reality. Moreover, defense lawyers for Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, have entirely dismissed the notion that these hurdles were devised on the state level. They claim that there was no intention on behalf of Georgia state authorities to deprive any of their voting citizens of this essential civil right. In fact, they point the finger at local election officials, stating that the obstacles were the consequence of their incompetence.
On the other hand, Democrats have collected a series of isolated incidents, most of which have occurred at different polling places. They are going to try and fit all these different pieces of evidence into the bigger picture that will show how the entire Georgia elective system has deteriorated over the years. They hope that they will succeed in their attempt to put the election process in Georgia under federal supervision again.
The plaintiffs have already more than 200 reports about the crooked election process that have become part of this lawsuit. These people claim, among other things, that the voter records mysteriously disappeared. Furthermore, the huge lines in front of the polling places deterred numerous voters and thus affected the turnout. There were also serious allegations claiming that the voting equipment transferred the democratic votes to the Republican candidate Kane, who eventually won this political race by tight 1.4% above the census line.
In an attempt to prove the severe violation of the voting rights in Georgia, the legal representative of plaintiffs is going to demand documents, emails, and testimonies from Georgia officials.
The current state of things shows that only the city of Pasadena, Texas, falls under the Voting Rights Act. This is because the Hispano community complained that their voting power was diminished by the rearranging of the voting districts.
The Voting Rights Act was in action in eight other states in the south and the west besides Georgia until 2013. An esteemed law professor says that it is too early to see whether this lawsuit is going to become a national issue adding that it provides a deeper insight into the kind of difficulties minority voters have to overcome during an election process.
In his opinion, this lawsuit also aims to show that even though these are isolated incidents, they become a serious threat to the voting right once they’re compiled.
Another law expert thinks that, depending on the gravity of this case, the judge may decide to order substantial alterations of the Georgia election law rather than reenacting the Voting right act.
The senior pastor in a church in Atlanta thinks that the governor election in November was the spark that incited African-American voters to fight for their rights. In his opinion, nothing has changed in the treatment of minority voters since there is a history of voting rights violations in Georgia.
The banal reason for denying people’s right to vote was the so-called “exact match” rule. Many people couldn’t vote because the hyphen in a name is missing. Over 80% of these voters were members of some minority.
There is also a “use it or lose it” rule in Georgia that can get voters off the voting lists. This rule clearly states that you can lose the right to participate in elections if you don’t vote for several years. Statistics show that 1.4% of voters in Georgia have been erased from the records between 2012 and 2018 due to their voting abstinence or other factors. Both of the rules stated have mostly affected minorities.
The pastor believes these are just contemporary and more delicate means that authorities use in an attempt to prevent the African-American minority from participating in the election process. In the dark ages of Southern history, there were literacy tests and poll taxes.
This esteemed member of the African-American community also adds that these actions bring him back to the events that lead to Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Movement.
On the other hand, one of the supervisors of the Georgia governor election thinks that serious mistakes that happened are “one-time thing” and not a reflection of the inherent flaws of the state’s entire election system. However, she also expresses an opinion that there were some legitimate complaints, besides the overblown ones, that should be taken into consideration and that no one should remain unheard.
Leigh Chapman, the director of the program that deals with important issues related to education, elections, and criminal justice, believes that the State of Georgia abused the freedom that the cancellation of the Voting Right Act brought. He stated that the authorities had passed a series of restrictive election laws since 2013 that infringed on the voters’ rights.
He also says that it is essential that these lawsuits exist as the only means of protection of the voting right until the Voting Right Act returns.
There is hope, however, that the new bill that saw the light of day in February will improve the protection of voting as a major civic right. This bill proposes that states with a history of voting rights violations will require the U.S. Department of Justice’s approval before altering state election laws.