VOTER ROLL PURGES:
Officials can purge voters from the rolls if they have moved, died, are incarcerated or have not voted in the past 2 elections. Officials initiate this process with a small 4x5 postcard that appears to be junk mail.
Through a process that Kemp calls voter roll maintenance (opponents call it voter roll purges), Kemp's office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone.
Georgia struck 1.5 million people from the rolls between 2012 and 2016 - twice as many as between 2008 and 2012, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice. Another 670,000 were removed in 2017 alone. 890,000 of these were eligible voters.
Deadline to register to vote in Georgia for 2018 was October 9th, however there is no law that requires the Secretary of State to process the registrations on a timeline, so they can be held indefinitely. Georgia does not register voters by party.
October 11, 2018, several civil rights organizations sue Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to stop the state from enforcing the 'Exact Match' voting law, which has put more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold. 38,000 of those on the list submitted their registration before the 2016 presidential election, and nearly a quarter of the list tried to register before the November 2014 midterms. About 80 percent of applications put on pending status were submitted by minority groups, according to the lawsuit. (See infographic on Registrations Held)
In the fall of 2014, Kemp received word that among the thousands of registration applications arriving from the New Georgia Project, a small number appeared to have been filled out fraudulently by volunteers with the group. In response, Kemp issued a dire warning that the group may have been engaged in fraud, even though there was no indication that the New Georgia Project’s leadership had done anything illegal. Kemp launched an investigation of the group with great fanfare just before the 2014 midterms. He closed the investigation in 2017 with no findings of wrongdoing.
A month before the 2014 midterms, Abrams sued Kemp’s office, alleging that it was delaying the processing of around half the 85,000 registration applications the New Georgia Project had submitted. A state judge ruled against Abrams, finding that Kemp was following protocol. The following year, 18,000 people registered by the group appeared on the rolls—suggesting that they were eligible voters all along, but that Kemp’s office had prevented them from participating in the midterms, in which he was reelected.
Still, when Kemp and the legislature reintroduced exact match last July, it appeared aimed not at the 2018 elections, but at 2020. “The threat for 2020 is real and significant,” says John Powers, an attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, who has been involved in multiple suits against Kemp. “This law was started in 2017. There’s the 26-month window. We know the list is already 53,000 people deep…So starting in 2019, a lot of people are going to start coming off [the rolls].”
County election officials have closed 214 precincts across the state since 2012, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That figure means nearly 8 percent of the state’s polling places, from fire stations to schools, have shut their doors over the past six years.
These precincts have been eliminated without federal government oversight. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2013 removed requirements under the Voting Rights Act for some local governments to obtain federal clearance before making changes to voting practices, such as closing precincts. The requirement was created specifically to prevent discrimination in mostly Southern communities with a history of poll taxes and other measures aimed at preventing minorities from voting.
The counties hit hardest by precinct closures are often in rural, impoverished areas where decisions about voting locations are made without attracting much public attention.
One-third of Georgia’s counties - 53 of 159 - have fewer precincts today than they did in 2012, according to the AJC’s count.
Of the counties that have closed voting locations, 39 have poverty rates that are higher than the state average. Thirty have significant African American populations, making up at least 25 percent of residents.
A six-page document found by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which uses lawsuits to oppose racial discrimination, shows that Kemp’s office gave guidance to local election officials about how to close precincts and polling places.
The document, dated February 2015, doesn’t recommend closing precincts, but it outlines the reasons local governments can do so, including to cut operating costs and to respond to shrinking numbers of voters. The document says twice that because of the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, election officials are no longer required to submit precinct changes to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance.
Since 2012 under Brian Kemp:
|Precincts Closed =||214|
|Counties with polling changes =||69|
map of precinct closures by county
HOW POLICY AFFECTED ABILITY TO VOTE
At about the same time, Gwinnett County, a majority minority county with 12% AAPI voters, began rejecting absentee ballots at a rate of 8.5%. (By comparison, Fulton County, the largest in Georgia, had rejected only 1.7% of its absentee ballots.) African Americans’ ballots were rejected four times more often than whites’ ballots. Asian Americans’ ballots were rejected six times more than whites’ ballots. According to Victoria Huynh of Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, many AAPI voters were not notified that their ballots were rejected. “They were stunned,” she said. “They had no idea there was an issue with their votes until our organization contacted them.”
On October 25, 2018, Judge Leigh Martin May, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, ordered election officials to stop rejecting absentee ballots and applications due to signature mismatches without first reaching out to voters to give them an opportunity to prove their identities. Under Georgia state law, a voter's absentee ballot or application whose signature does not match that on the voter's registration card must be rejected. May ruled that this requirement violated the due process rights of absentee voters and ordered that absentee ballots and applications with apparent signature mismatches be treated as provisional ballots pending determination of their validity. Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) requested that May stay the order pending appeal. His attorneys wrote, "Last-minute challenges to longstanding election procedures have long been disfavored because they threaten to disrupt the orderly administration of elections, which is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy." Andrea Young, executive director of ACLU Georgia, which is a party to one of the lawsuits giving rise to May's order, said, "We are disappointed that the Secretary of State is unwilling to grant due process to Georgia citizens who vote by absentee ballot." On November 2, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied Kemp's request for a stay of May's order.
On November 2, 2018, Judge Eleanor Ross, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, ordered that individuals whose voter registrations were flagged by election officials and placed on pending status due to questions over citizenship be allowed to cast regular ballots if, prior to voting, they provided election officials with proof of identity and citizenship.
It is vitally important to note that not all Georgia counties report their ballot rejection rates to the state. Only 102 of 159 counties have reported any rejections at all as of Monday night (after the election), and there is no guarantee that those 102 counties have reported all of their rejections.
2.1M voted early; Oct 15 to Nov 2. Mail-ins started Sept 18. On Oct 1st AJC reported that so far, 9,077 voters have returned absentee ballots, according to data from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. These early voters are increasingly African Americans and women.
From page 49 of S.O.S. elections handbook: when a provisional ballot (PB) is given the voter must by law also be given a toll-free access # to check status and this same # must also provide reason if PB was not counted. Failure to do so will subject registrars and the county by which they are employed to sanctions by the State Election Board. Georgia’s midterm elections
BRIAN KEMP POLLING GUIDE STATE VOTER GUIDE:
PROVISIONAL BALLOT COUNTS
State records indicate 21,190 of those ballots were cast statewide, but Abrams’ campaign said its own review shows about 5,000 more. The deadline for voters to settle issues with provisional ballots was Friday. (she needed 17,000 to force a runoff)
PROPER BALLOTS RUNNING OUT
Our cast member, Kavi Vu explains here: When she began asking the mostly African American, Asian American and Latinx voters about their voting experiences, she learned that after 2.5 hour wait times, many of them had voted via provisional ballots.
Why? As it turned out, Lucky Shoals was not their correct voting location. “A lot of people had lived in Gwinnett County their entire lives and voted at the same location and all of the sudden they were switched to a new location,” Vu said.
So, when poll workers offered voters the option of voting at Lucky Shoals with provisional ballots, rather than driving elsewhere to wait in another line, the voters took them up on it. They left with I’m a Georgia Voter sticker, and printed instructions for how to cure their ballots. But poll workers didn’t verbally explain to the voters that they’d need to appear at the county registrar’s office within three days to cure their ballots, nor did the poll workers make it clear that the votes would not count at all if the voters failed to do so. What’s more, as the day wore on, poll workers ran out of the provisional ballot instructions altogether.
TRAINING AT POLLS
Many voters who experienced issues at the poll were not offered provisional ballots. (See link above and below).
ELECTION TIMELINE AND FACTS:
A record number of Georgians, more than 6.9 million, are registered to vote ahead of next month’s election for governor, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office reported Wednesday. That figure includes at least 253,902 new voters who signed up since the April 24 voter registration deadline for the primary election.
Just 43 percent of registered voters cast ballots during the last Georgia midterm election in 2014.
There were about 6,659,000 registered voters on Election Day in 2016 compared with more than 6,915,000 registered voters today.
Another interesting trend is the sheer magnitude of the turnout where Abrams needs it and where most suppression took place. Of the top 10 most populous Georgia counties, eight are solidly Democratic with blue supermajorities in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. These eight Democratic counties produced nearly 1 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while the only two Republican counties in the top 10 went for Trump with 151,000 votes. Note that the last Georgia Governor won the state with 1.34 million votes.
Eight years ago, only 17,500 Democratic primary ballots were cast, accounting for less than one-quarter of the overall votes. This year, that number eclipsed 40,500 — rocketing to 53 percent of the total, the largest Democratic increase in Georgia.
The primary reason is a swirl of changing demographics. More than 60 percent of Gwinnett’s 900,000 residents are black, Latino or Asian — a tidal shift for a county that was almost exclusively white in the 1990s. Transplants from major cities in the Northeast and Midwest are also changing the county’s mix.
Historical voter stats to now:
Of the 6.4 million registered voters, 3. 9 million voted in Tuesday’s election — the highest rate in a midterm election year in recent history, according to secretary of state records. About 2.1 million voters cast ballots early this year, a new high for a midterm election in Georgia. Early turnout more than doubled from the last midterm election in 2014, when about 954,000 people cast advance ballots.
June 29, 2018
Four years ago, Republicans out-voted Democrats in the primary by about 265,000 ballots. This year the GOP edge was about 56,000 votes. Overall, Democratic primary voters have shot up by 40 percent since 2010. Republicans declined by 10 percent.
The data show the broad majority of African American voters pulled Democratic ballots, which could bolster the hope of Stacey Abrams, who is racing to be the nation’s first black female governor.
AUGUST 6 IS THE DEADLINE TO PURGE
SEPTEMBER 18 MAIL-IN VOTING STARTS
OCTOBER 9 DEADLINE TO REGISTER
OCTOBER 10 POLL RELEASED: EARLY VOTING POLL WITHIN 2 POINTS: (JUST BEFORE 53K)
OCTOBER 12 Kemp puts 53,000 new voter applications on hold. 70% of which are African Americans (80% POC)
Fulton County has more voter registrations placed on hold by far than any other county—20,768 compared to DeKalb County, which is number two with 10,541. Roughly 44 percent of Fulton is black, but 75 percent of the voter registrations on hold come from African Americans.
OCTOBER a week or so later Kemp is caught on tape stating concerns about Abrams’ get out the vote efforts:
OCTOBER 15 STARTS EARLY VOTING
FULL KEMP TIMELINE:
March 31, 2017, Brian Kemp officially announces his campaign for Governor of Georgia, without resigning from his position as Secretary of State.
April 05, 2017, Georgia's 'Exact Match' policy, which was previously halted after the start of a lawsuit over the policy's effects of disproportionately hurting minority persons registering to vote, is signed into state law.
May 22nd, 2018, Brian Kemp and Casey Cagle are selected to proceed to a run-off primary. Brian Kemp has not yet resigned as Secretary of State.
July 24th, 2018, Brian Kemp wins the primary runoff for Republican Gubernatorial Candidate. He has not yet resigned from his position as Secretary of State.
August 2nd, 2018 the Secretary of State's a smartphone app, which is designed to help voters register to vote and to track their registration status, is found to have social media links that redirect to pages that promote Kemp's campaign for Governor.
In August 2018, Brian Kemp states he will neither step down, nor recuse himself from his position as Secretary of State during his campaign.
In August 2018 the ACLU of Georgia begins fighting back against a plan to close some 7 of 9 voting precincts in Randolph County, a predominantly poor county with a significant percent of persons lacking access to reliable transportation for long distances. The ACLU claims there is evidence that this was done with intent to make it harder for African Americans to vote, even though the official reason supplied is a combination of ADA compliance and funding issues. Brian Kemp’s office releases a statement against the plan. Consultant Mike Malone, who created the plan and who was hired by Randolph County at the recommendation of the Secretary of State’s office, then made the statement that “Consolidation has come highly recommended by the Secretary of State and is already being adopted by several counties and is being seriously considered and being worked on by many more.” Brian Kemp, and his office, refutes that statement, claiming that the Secretary of State did not advise “counties to do anything”. Malone now agrees with that, stating “I don’t recall ever hearing anything from the secretary of state that said they recommend this.” He offered no explanation as to why he made a statement to the contrary earlier. Malone is fired soon after his comments, by Randolph County Attorney Tommy Coleman, who stated that “[t]hat wasn’t what he was hired to do”. Roughly 10 days after the New York Times article about the ACLU’s pushback, Randolph County rejects the plan to close its polling places.
October 11, 2018, several civil rights organizations sue Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to stop the state from enforcing the 'Exact Match' voting law, which has put more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold. 38,000 of those on the list submitted their registration before the 2016 presidential election, and nearly a quarter of the list tried to register before the November 2014 midterms. About 80 percent of applications put on pending status were submitted by minority groups, according to the lawsuit.
October 19, 2018, the Georgia Secretary of State's office is sued to obtain records of the over 300,000 voters which have been removed from Georgia's rolls over the past two years. This data is made public for review.
October 24, 2018, a federal judge issues a temporary order to block Georgia's election officials from rejecting any absentee ballots under Georgia’s Voter Signature Match Law, otherwise known as 'Exact Match', without giving voters the opportunity to confirm their identity.
October 26, 2018, CohereOne, an analytics consultant, makes public their review of nearly 531,000 voters who were moved from "inactive to cancelled" within the state's records. This change is status is supposed to come after a voter does not vote in an election for a number of years. After that, a postcard is sent to the voter requesting updated information. As per a Supreme Court ruling, the state can remove voters only if elections are missed, the postcard is not returned, and if the state has reasonable indication that the voter has moved. Of the 531,000 voters' records reviewed, the study found that over 340,000 did not actually move, and thus had their registration removed incorrectly. Thousands more were incorrectly removed for moving within their county, which does not require a person to reregister.
OCT 29: Early voting is going strong in Georgia. We see that over 40 percent of the early voters are minorities where Abrams is thought to dominate. A solid 30 percent are African Americans where Abrams enjoys over 90 percent support. Also important is that infrequent voters are coming out in this midterm when we typically only see them during presidential elections. Some 30 percent of Georgia early voters are so-called non-voters, which is defined as new or infrequent voters.
Of the so-called non-voters under 40 years of age, more than 77 percent of early voters under 40 did not vote in the last midterm. This demographic is believed to strongly favor Abrams, and so far, they represent over 118,000 new or non-voters. In addition, minority voters, an Abrams base, are solidly represented in the category of non-voters with some 179,000 recording early votes so far.
All of this is important because in Georgia there is usually only a 200,000-vote differential between the winner of the statewide race for governor and the loser (out of around 2.5 million cast). Assuming both sides crank out their respective bases, as the numbers suggest they are, these new or infrequent voters will decide this election. https://www.thedailybeast.com/keeping-hope-alive-georgia-early-voting-looking-good-for-stacey-abrams
NOV. 2nd - 2.1 million voters voted early
NOV. 4th - Kemp accuses Democratic opponent of hacking the election with zero evidence
Stacey Abrams lost by 54,723 votes. She only needed 17,000 for a runoff.
DEEPER DIVES AND FURTHER READING:
VOTING RIGHTS ACT:
Prior to 2013, nine states — mostly in the South — and 56 counties and towns in other states, were covered by what was known as Section 5 of the Act.
"Covered jurisdictions": Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, In addition, certain political subdivisions (usually counties) in four other states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina were covered. It also provided a procedure to terminate this coverage.
Under Section 5, any change with respect to voting in a covered jurisdiction -- or any political subunit within it -- cannot legally be enforced unless and until the jurisdiction first obtains the requisite determination by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or makes a submission to the Attorney General. This requires proof that the proposed voting change does not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
As you can see, Georgia is the only state that enacted policy affecting every issue.
The share of women who identify with or lean to the Democratic Party has risen in recent years, to 54% in 2016 and 56% in 2017. The partisan breakdown of men is relatively unchanged over this period.
the share of whites identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic has edged upward (43% now, up from no more than 40% from 2009 to 2016). This growth is attributable to a slight increase in Democratic-leaning independents, rather than a rise in Democratic affiliation.
By contrast, African American voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic: 84% identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. Just 8% of black voters identify in some way with the Republican Party.
By more than two-to-one (63% to 28%), Hispanic voters are more likely to affiliate with or lean toward the Democratic Party than the GOP. The overall balance of partisan orientation among Hispanics is little changed over the last decade.
Among Asian American registered voters: 65% identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with 27% who identify as or lean Republican.
Voters in urban counties have long aligned more with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, and this Democratic advantage has grown over time. Today, twice as many urban voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic (62%) as affiliate with the GOP or lean Republican.
Abrams leveraged that trend in a dominating victory over former state Rep. Stacey Evans. She won with about 76 percent of the vote and carried all but six of Georgia’s 159 counties, helped by soaring Democratic turnout in vast stretches of the state.
And no county experienced a greater jump in Democratic voter participation between 2010 and 2018 than Gwinnett, a fast-diversifying suburb that’s central to the party’s hopes of winning the Governor’s Mansion. (This is the county with disproportionate amount of tossed absentee ballots)
THE KEMP CONSULTANT BEHIND POLLING LOCATION CLOSINGS:
Malone’s political motivations have also been called into question. In addition to the congressional midterms, Georgia voters will decide their next governor during November’s elections. Democrat Stacey Abrams is vying to become the first black female governor in U.S. history, and Randolph County — which is 61 black — went solidly for Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. Suppressing turnout in the county would heavily benefit Abrams’ Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, to whom Malone has contributed.
Malone also reportedly told residents that the idea of precinct consolidation came from Kemp himself, whose office recommended Malone to Randolph County officials in the first place. He has since recanted, telling local media that he never directly heard Kemp make such a recommendation.
Despite Malone’s termination, the county’s Board of Elections is still scheduled to vote on the proposal during a meeting on Friday. There’s little indication it will receive much — if any — support.
Polling site breakdown 2016:
HANDWRITING EXPERTS How clerks are rejecting mail-in ballots:
POLICE TARGETING DRIVER HELPING ABRAMS VOTERS GET OUT:
ABRAMS’ SUIT TO FIX THE SYSTEM:
States that pay for elections:
SAMPLE OF THE PROCESS FOR A PRECINCT:
Each county (159 total) hires their own workers, this is Cobb county: