Georgia Republicans Lament Efforts To Expand Voting Access, Try To Stop Them
As November approaches, Georgia finds itself home to a toss-up Senate race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. With such a competitive race, voters are registering at a higher rate than usual and county election boards are taking steps to expand access to the polls. America has one of the worst turnout rates of any developed country in the world, so you’d like to think that everybody would be cheering this news. But some Republican officials are worried that these measures are resulting in the increased participation of minority voters, and that that fact could spell trouble for their own candidates.
Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is one of these officials. Think Progress’s Josh Israel reports on new audio released by progressive voting rights organization Better Georgia that captures Kemp sharing his frustration over it’s grassroots effort to register minority voters for the election. Here’s an excerpt from the tape:
Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.
Using the power of his position, Kemp plans to fight back. On Tuesday, Kemp launched a “voter fraud” investigation into the voter registration effort, which he says he suspects may have “forged voter registration applications, forged signatures on releases, and applications with false or inaccurate information.” (As a reminder, the problem of voter fraud is essentially non-existent.)
Kemp is not the only one feeling threatened. Just the day before he launched his investigation, another Republican, state senator Fran Millar, complained that voting is too convenient for black people. One of Georgia’s largest counties announced last week that it will allow early voting on a Sunday in late October and will open an early voting location in a shopping mall popular among local African-Americans. Millar penned an angry response, explaining that “this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist.” When asked to stand by his comments, Millar only got more offensive, writing in a Facebook post, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”
BOTTOM LINE: Expanding voting access by increasing opportunities to vote and increasing voter registration is something that deserves to be celebrated in our democracy. Instead, some officials in Georgia, feeling threatened by what might happen if more people exercise their constitutional right, resort to name calling and launching specious investigations that are more likely intended for voter suppression than anything else.