Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Georgia has become a battleground and 'ground zero' for voting discrimination, rights group says

Half a million have already voted early in Georgia.
(Associated Press photo by John Bazemore)
In Georgia, which has become a presidential battleground state, voting-rights advocates say as many as 100,000 registrations have not been processed, have accused officials of providing limited early voting sites, and have sued them for refusing to extend voting registration deadlines in regions affected by Hurricane Matthew, Vanessa Williams reports for The Washington Post.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Williams that Georgia “is unique in that a lot of the suppression we’re seeing is at the local level, with elected officials in communities that are smaller and more rural, and are not under the microscope in the same way that state elections officials are. . . . Georgia is ground zero, if you will, when it comes to voter suppression and voting discrimination that we’re seeing this election season.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit last week to extend registration in six counties affected by the hurricane. Williams writes, "Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees elections, responded by taking to Twitter to rail against 'left-wing activists,' whom he accused of trying to disrupt the election." He wrote, “We can’t sit back and watch the radical left create chaos in our state. Stand with me and protect Georgia elections!”

Williams reports, "Voting rights advocates in Georgia say Republican state and local election officials are undermining the fairness of the vote by passing laws and adopting procedures that deter minorities and young people, groups that typically vote Democratic." They "have challenged laws and procedures enacted by Kemp that they said would make it harder for people to register to vote and would unnecessarily kick people off the voting rolls. In one county, advocates say they stopped an effort by local officials to move a polling precinct that served predominantly black voters from a gymnasium to the sheriff’s office."

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, said last week that the Obama administration should appoint election monitors in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

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