ICYMI: Long History of Republican Voter Suppression Precludes GA GOP’s Fear Of Vote By Mail

April 17, 2020

Earlier this week, in an opinion piece, Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Jim Galloway highlighted the deep hypocrisy and voter suppression behind Georgia Republicans’ opposition to vote by mail in the state, even during a global pandemic. 

Galloway’s piece points out that in 2005, Republicans, including current House Speaker David Ralston, were directly responsible for expanding Georgia’s vote by mail laws — “because [Republicans] were the ones who most often used absentee ballots, not Democrats.” 

Five years later, things changed. In 2010, in response to African American candidates in Quitman, GA implementing an organized absentee ballot effort to win school board seats, former Secretary of State Brian Kemp ordered armed GBI agents to question and intimidate voters at their homes and criminalized African American organizers for alleged voter fraud:

A dozen organizers, all of them African-American, were indicted for more than 100 election law violations, each of which carried penalties up to 10 years in prison. Four years later, only one defendant was tried. She was acquitted after two mistrials. One defendant died while under indictment. The remaining cases were dropped.

As Kemp went on to oversee his own election for governor in 2018, things got much worse for Georgians attempting to vote by mail, with Gwinnett election officials at one point discarding nearly one in 10 absentee ballots

Now, as the Secretary of State and county elections boards start making decisions about how to implement the June 9th election, both national and Georgia Republican leaders have gone on the record opposing enhanced vote by mail efforts because they fear the same efforts they once championed would increase turnout and hurt Republicans: 

“…up in Washington, President Donald Trump had condemned efforts made by Democrats to insert funds in a stimulus package that would have allowed states to enhance vote-by-mail operations. “They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again,” the president told the “Fox & Friends” trio.

In an interview with a hometown news outlet, Fetchyournews.com, [Georgia House Speaker] Ralston concurred with Trump. “The president said it best. This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia…”

What is past is prologue in Georgia, now as Republicans seek retribution for efforts to expand the vote, including a new Quitman-esque voter intimidation task force

In Jackson County, the local GOP chapter demanded the resignation of the Republican board member, Erma Denney, who chose to advocate for vote by mail, who said of her fellow conservatives: “You better make the correct decision, because you don’t get to play dumb afterwards when addressing the inevitable fallout from in-person voting in Georgia.” 

Georgia Republicans have made it very clear where they stand on vote-by-mail and increasing voter turnout. 

Georgia Democrats stand ready to protect the vote in Georgia. The Democratic Party of Georgia was the first state party in the country to hire a full time voter protection director, and has since doubled and tripled staff in order to help all voters cast their ballots and get their vote counted. The DPG’s Voter Protection Hotline is available to answer all Georgia voters’ questions at 888-730-5816. 


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