DPG Statement on Jeb Bush’s Voting Rights Act Comments

Release:  Friday, October 9, 2015   

                                                                                     

 

Democratic Party of Georgia Statement on Jeb Bush’s Voting Rights Act Comments

 

 

Atlanta, GA – Today, Democratic Party of Georgia Chair DuBose Porter issued the following statement in response to Jeb Bush’s comments on ballot access in Georgia.

 

“Next time, Jeb Bush should brush up on the state of voter access in Georgia before he opens his mouth. Coming from a governor whose state purged thousands of eligible voters, Jeb Bush is the last person anybody should be taking advice from on voting rights.

 

“Here are the facts in Georgia: A combination of Republican malfeasance and ineptitude in the legislature and the Secretary of State’s office continue to jeopardize ballot access for Georgia’s voters. Under Secretary of State Brian Kemp, we’ve seen our elections system basically drown in dysfunction. Republicans wasted taxpayer money and resources on a fruitless three year witch-hunt of the Quitman 12—accomplishing nothing more than the harassment of people of color. They found nothing.

 

“It seems that every week, we hear of another county pushing for the consolidation of precincts, adversely impacting the elderly, people of color, and those struggling to make ends meet.

 

“Recently, one of Kemp’s senior elections officials illegally purged thousands and thousands of Georgians from the voter rolls.
“And let’s not forget that—in response to a historic move to hold Sunday voting—Sen. Fran Millar, John Kasich’s man in Georgia, called expanded access to voting a ‘loophole’ and made reprehensible remarks about the Georgians who would benefit from expanded early voting opportunities.

 

“This is the first presidential election cycle we’ve had without preclearance, and the need for the strengthening of the Voting Rights Act is greater than ever. Thankfully Georgia Democrats are at the forefront of the fight to restore the VRA. But instead of expanding ballot access and making it easier to vote, Brian Kemp seems to prefer palling around with Republican presidential candidates and making a name for himself with the SEC primary. To have Jeb Bush make such dismissive remarks about Georgians’ right to vote is severely misguided and downright foolish.

 

“Georgia Democrats will continue to fight against the GOP’s voter suppression tactics, and fight even harder to ensure every eligible citizen is able to register, every registered voter is able to vote, and every vote is accurately counted.”

 

 

###

 

 

 

Background

 

TIME – Exclusive: Jeb Bush Explains Why He Opposes Voting Rights Act Provision

 

“They want to reauthorize the Article 5 portion of this, and it’s time to move on,” Bush said. “Look, in—I think Georgia is the example that people use, African-American turn-out is higher than it is amongst white voters. There’s early voting, there’s all sorts of access. Percentage of vote is higher.”

“There is a point to say that whatever was done to create that environment, we should hail it as a success, and assume that states have the capability to do what’s right,” Bush added.

…Bush said he was unfamiliar with the ongoing controversy in Alabama, in which the state is closing driver’s license centers in many poor and minority communities due to budget cuts. The state’s voter identification law requires that voters posses identification to vote. Combined, critics argue, it is an effort to depress minority turnout in the state. Bush said he thought the current law allowed officials enough authority to investigate the claims.

“I don’t know the case of Alabama,” Bush told TIME. “Typically when you close DMVs it’s because of budget considerations. I can’t comment on that. But the existing law allows for some ability to inquire about that and look into it.”

 

Think Progress [9-9-14]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday that Georgia state Senator Fran Millar (R) penned an angry response to DeKalb County’s announcement that early voting will be available on Sunday, October 26, and that an early-voting location will be opened at The Gallery at South DeKalb Mall. Millar represents part of the county and is Senior Deputy Whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans.

Millar wrote:

Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist.

UPDATE 

On his Facebook page Tuesday, Millar stood by his comments, writing: “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.

 

Huffington Post [6-25-15] – Florida Voter Purge Fiasco May Complicate Jeb Bush’s Appeal To Minorities

 

As the 2016 campaign heats up, an episode from his tenure as Florida governor reveals why Bush’s image as a “uniter, not a divider,” as his older brother used to put it, may not stand up. The state’s deeply flawed purge of felons from its voting rolls in advance of the 2000 presidential election remains a scar that still has not healed for many in the state.

…Since Florida did not track its voters by Social Security number, the company was instructed to engage in a subjective process that attempted to match felon names and dates of birth with voter records, allowing for “near matches” that were close, but not exact.

After Jeb Bush took office in 1999, this process continued. In the months leading up to the 2000 presidential election, local election supervisors began receiving lists from state officials of people DBT had identified as convicted felons and thus needed to be eliminated from the voting rolls.

It became immediately clear that the effort was generating a slew of false positives. Voters in good standing, who happened to share names with convicted felons, but had never been in trouble with the law, were being taken off the voting rolls.

 

 

11 Alive [4-3-15]

 

Kemp said Friday that the resignation was due to 7,690 voters being moved from inactive to cancelled status within 90 days of an election. The change, which occurred in February 2014 under Ford’s supervision, happened six days after more than 312,000 Georgia voters were changed from inactive to cancelled during a standard update process required by law.