Racist GOP voter suppression effort defeated in Georgia


Democrats scored a 'huge victory' in a lawsuit over absentee ballots.

Voters in Georgia scored a "huge victory" over the weekend, after state officials and Democratic groups announced they had reached a settlement over a lawsuit regarding absentee ballots.

Georgia election officials will now be required to quickly notify any voter if their absentee ballot is rejected, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Ballot issues could include missing information or an election official rejecting a ballot because the official does not believe the signature on the ballot matches the signature on file.

Under the settlement, state officials must contact voters within three business days — by email, phone, and mail — to notify them if there is an issue with their absentee ballot. A voter would then be given the opportunity to correct the issue.

If officials reject a ballot within 11 days of Election Day, voters must be notified within one business day.

Georgia's previous law lacked standards for notifying voters when there was an issue with absentee ballots, and the impact of the discrepancy "disproportionately impact[ed] African-American and other minority voters," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The settlement "will give Georgians peace of mind that their votes will be counted and that they won't lose their voices because of flawed state election laws," Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), chair of the DCCC, said in a statement.

"While Georgia Republicans continue to try and deny law-abiding citizens their right to vote, Georgia Democrats will keep fighting to make sure every Georgian can make their voice heard in this election," Nikema Williams, chair of the DPG, said in a statement.

Williams described the settlement as a "huge victory for all Georgians."

The 2018 gubernatorial election in Georiga was rife with voter suppression issues. Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams accused Republican Brian Kemp — who was both secretary of state and a gubernatorial candidate at the time — of intentionally suppressing black voters in the state.

"As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters — the majority of them people of color," Abigail Collazo, Abrams' spokesperson, said in an October statement.

The comment came after the Associated Press revealed Kemp's office was holding up voter registration forms of more than 50,000 Georgians, most of them African Americans.

A month before the election, Kemp, in his capacity as secretary of state, was sued by several civil rights organizations over efforts to suppress minority voters.

Days before the election, Kemp falsely accused Georgia Democrats of hacking into the voter registration system. An investigation found no evidence to back up Kemp's claims.

Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams, and denied all accusations of voter suppression.

Georgia will face two Senate races in 2020, following Sen. Johnny Isakson's retirement. Republican Sen. David Perdue is also up for reelection.

Additionally, the state is shaping up to be a presidential battleground state.

"We will continue to stand up for voting rights and win these fights so voters can make their voices heard and every ballot is counted fairly in 2020," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), chair of the DSCC, said about the settlement.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.