With Republican power dwindling in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp, who made sure he won the vote in 2018 as Secretary of State by overseeing his own gubernatorial election, appears to be channeling Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin.
“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how,” Stalin declared, “but what is extraordinarily important is this: who will count the votes and how.”
Kemp and his Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, certified the 2020 election that gave President Joe Biden Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes. The former guy flew into a rage at them, falsely charging that “massive voting fraud” had taken place here and demanding Raffensperger “find” just enough votes for him to win.
Kemp and Raffensperger, to their credit, responded by telling the nation there was no fraud. When they did, they realized their own political futures were in jeopardy, that the former guy would come after them in 2022 because they acted ethically, which he never does.
Thus, the governor and state legislature passed onerous voter suppression laws aimed at excluding voters likely to cast Democratic ballots from exercising their franchise, in particular minorities and young people. They claim the laws will “secure” state elections. But they also said the elections were already secure, so their motivation is quite clear.
Fulton County is the largest Democratic stronghold in Georgia, which also happens to be the largest by population, 44% of which is black. Biden won Fulton County by nearly 73%. Now Kemp is seeking to oust Fulton election officials under a new suppression law and replace them with state officials, as in, those who count the votes and how.
Uncle Joe would be proud of Brian.
“(Kemp) fell out of grace with the former president,” said Rob Pitts, chairman of Fulton County’s Board of Commissioners. “He’s desperately trying to cling to power by appeasing those who believe in the Big Lie.”
Scott Hogan, executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party called the GOP’s attempted takeover a “shameless Republican power grab designed to suppress voters and inject partisan politics into our elections.”
Independent monitor Carter Jones observed the 2020 ballot count in Fulton County, and while saying it was messy, he saw no evidence of fraud. Nevertheless, the state election board voted to investigate Fulton County’s elections, a probe that could stretch into next year.
Speaking of probes, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating the former guy’s calls to Raffensperger to determine if election tampering laws were broken. The secretary of state is cooperating with the investigation, providing interviews and documents Willis has requested.
None of this would be necessary if Republicans would present policies that help improve the lives of average Americans. Then there’d be a real debate about ideas and voters could weigh the pros and cons of the differing proposals. For example, Biden and Democrats in Congress want to get America’s infrastructure upgraded by spending nearly as much as was wasted on pointless wars over the last 20 years. But where is the GOP’s counterproposal?
Absent any ideas, Republicans hope the Big Lie will win them the House and Senate in 2022. I suspect their objective is to make voting so difficult, Democrats won’t bother to cast ballots in an off-year election. But here’s the flip side of that coin: by suggesting voting is “rigged,” Republican voters might not go to the polls either, believing their ballots won’t be counted.
Democrats see what Kemp and his cohorts are up to, so when the time comes, they will stage a get out the vote campaign in Georgia as they did in 2020. Before that, however, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of various civil rights groups will be adjudicated and it is quite possible Kemp’s suppression laws will be struck down.
In a statement, the ACLU said, “The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions of (the legislation) including the
- Ban on mobile voting
- New narrow identification requirements for requesting and casting an absentee ballot
- Delayed and compressed time period for requesting absentee ballots
- Restrictions on secure drop boxes
- Out-of-precinct provisional ballot disqualification
- Drastic reduction in early voting in run-off elections
- Perhaps most cruelly, ban on ‘line warming,’ where volunteers provide water and snacks to Georgians, disproportionately those of color, who wait in needlessly long lines to cast a vote
These provisions, the lawsuit charges, violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and infringe on Georgians’ rights under the First, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
Through their nakedly partisan machinations, Kemp, Raffensperger and the GOP-led state legislature have exposed themselves for who they really are: enemies of democracy. They don’t deserve to be in power.