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Not one Republican showed up to hearing on helping more people vote

Republicans didn’t bother to show up at a hearing featuring Stacey Abrams on voter suppression efforts.

By Oliver Willis - February 20, 2019
Stacey Abrams

Republicans skipped a special congressional hearing on efforts to suppress the votes of racial minorities, in the latest sign of the party’s ongoing hostility to voting rights.

Not a single Republican on the House Administration Committee attended the hearing on Tuesday, which took place at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The session was entitled, “Field Hearing on Voting Rights and Election Administration in Georgia.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) described the event as “a hearing on how we enfranchise all voters in the United States.”

Georgia was ground zero for Republican voter suppression efforts in the 2018 midterms. Brian Kemp, who continued overseeing Georgia elections as secretary of state even while he ran against Democrat Stacey Abrams for governor, held up the registrations of over 53,000 mostly black voters — just one of the many voter suppression tactics Kemp has engaged in over the years. Kemp narrowly won the governors race.

At the hearing, Abrams explained how Republican leaders in her state operated their campaign.

“Incompetence and malfeasance operates in tandem, and the sheer complexity of the state’s voting apparatus smooths voter suppression into a nearly seamless system that targets voter registration, ballot access, and ballot counting,” Abrams testified.

Abrams said the hurdles erected by the GOP to depress turnout among minority voters — who heavily favor Democrats — had its “desired effect.”

Sean J. Young, the legal director for ACLU of Georgia, also testified at the hearing and discussed the difficulty of filing local legal challenges to voter suppression.

“Playing whack-a-mole is not a sustainable strategy to fight against voting discrimination,” he explained.

Democrats in Congress have proposed a series of electoral reforms as part of HR 1, a House bill that would increase voter participation and protect the sanctity of the vote against foreign and domestic threats.

Instead of joining in and supporting the right to vote, however, Republicans have attacked the bill. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the party has lashed out at the idea of protecting voting rights in such an egregious manner that McConnell’s hometown newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, blasted his efforts as “segregationist.”

At the same time as the hearing took place in Georgia, North Carolina elections officials heard testimony from an investigation exposing how a Republican campaign operative worked to steal a House seat in the 9th Congressional District.

Republicans have been systematically attacking voting rights across the country. These attacks come almost exclusively from Republicans, because they tend to lose when more people — especially more people of color, poor people, students, and others hurt by voter suppression tactics — are able to cast a ballot.

After years of inaction at best and active sabotage at worst under Republican leadership, the problem is finally being addressed.

But Republicans simply chose not to show up and face the consequences of their actions.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 

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