Newswire: Judge to rule on restoring Georgia’s purged voters

By Khalil Abdullah
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Ethnic Media Services

Latasha Brown of Black Voters Matter is one of the plaintiffs in the Georgia purged voters case


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Arguments in federal court continue this week on whether Georgia’s secretary of state’s office, the defendant in a lawsuit, illegally purged an estimated 198,000 Georgia residents from the state’s voting rolls.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones has promised a ruling in short order on whether those eligible voters could be restored to the rolls in time to participate in the January 5 run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.
“The urgency is there is an election and these people should be allowed to vote,” said CK Hoffler, board chair of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, CEO of the CK Hoffler Firm and president of the National Bar Association.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a plaintiff, as are the Black Voters Matter’s Fund, Transformative Justice Coalition, and the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project.
The deadline for registering to vote in the January election was December 7, but reinstatement on the rolls conveys the right to vote.
On September 1, the ACLU issued a report by journalist Greg Palast and The Palast Investigative Fund on the purge and brought that report to the attention of Secretary of State’s office. Once served notice, Georgia had 90 days to take action to investigate, remedy, or respond to the allegation before a lawsuit could be filed.
Raffensperger’s office “did nothing,” said Palast. On day 91, December 2, the plaintiffs filed the suit, contending that purges occurred in the runups to the 2018 and 2020 elections.
The lawsuit argues the purge was illegal under the National Voter Registration Act, because, for one, Raffensperger’s office used an unqualified vendor rather than one approved by the U.S. Postal Service which maintains the National Change of Address data set, NCOALink.
The Palast investigative team found that “When a USPS full-service licensee was used to check these same names, more than half of the 108,306 Georgians removed from the rolls by this flawed process, or fully 68,930 Georgia voters were found not to have filed NCOA notices and …. still have mailable addresses from where they initially registered.”
The lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality Georgia’s “use it or lose it law” which was in effect at the time of the purge. The suit states, “Under ‘use it or lose it’ law … the Secretary of State presumes people have moved if they have had (a) no contact with any election official for three years, (b) failed to return a confirmation postcard, and (c) then failed to vote in the next two federal elections, justifying their purge from the rolls. According to the experts in list hygiene, however, fully 79,193 of the 120,561 voters whose registrations were cancelled in 2019 continued to have a verified address to receive mail at their original address of registration.”
Thus, from the figures provided by the Secretary of State’s office, “Plaintiffs allege that 199,908 wrongfully lost their right to vote based on an incorrect assumption that they had changed their residence.”
Though some purged voters have moved outside the state and some have died, the remaining majority are likely to be predominantly Latino and African American. The latter tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Exit polls showed Latinos in Georgia favoring Biden over Trump, but by narrower margins than African Americans and by even smaller percentages for Democratic candidates over Republicans in down-ballot races.
Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats will determine which party controls the Senate in President-elect Biden’s first term. Republicans hold a 52 to 48 margin. Should both of their candidates lose, the balance would shift to 50-50, with Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote. But, as the vice president only votes in the Senate when there is a tie, Republicans will still have a 51-49 edge should only one of their candidates win.
“No one expected a run-off election,” Palast said. He conjectured that the Secretary of State’s office decided, from September 1, to run out the clock on the 90-day period to respond, thinking that a definitive election victory in November would move the lawsuit to the backburner of consideration.
Palast also noted that Georgia had legally purged 125,000 voters. “Many of these moved in Atlanta, but failed to re-register when they moved across a county line.”
Hollywood celebrities have been engaged to encourage Georgia residents to check their voter registration status.
The image of actress Rosario Dawson with that message now looms over downtown Atlanta on a 20 by 60-foot electronic billboard. She is also featured in a public service message while Zoe Saldana has ones circulating in Spanish.
Leonard DiCaprio has tweeted about the purge. “Live in #Georgia? Go to http://SaveMyVote2020.org to see if you have been removed from the electoral roll.”
Star-power aside, Palast has a message of personal responsibility for Georgia residents and those in other states. “We have great lawyers, but you need to take care of your own vote.”

Newswire: Voter suppression tactics and long lines fail to quell resolve of Black voters

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


The lines are long, but Black voters are demonstrating their will to vote. In Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, African Americans’ resiliency and resolve have never been as severely tested.
They have gone to great lengths to overcome voter suppression, discouragement, misinformation, gerrymandering, and so many other obstacles to participate in America’s elections.
In Fort Bend County, Texas, a check-in machine glitch shut down at least four precincts, and a court ruling that significantly limited ballot locations didn’t stop many African Americans from traveling long distances and overcoming even longer wait times to vote.
In Georgia, NPR Reported that the clogged polling locations in metro Atlanta reflected an underlying pattern: the number of places to vote has shrunk statewide, with little recourse.
“Although the reduction in polling places has taken place across racial lines, it has primarily caused long lines in nonwhite neighborhoods where voter registration has surged and more residents cast ballots in person on Election Day. The pruning of polling places started long before the pandemic, which has discouraged people from voting in person,” the report noted.
In Virginia, a glitch shut down polls and forced officials to push back deadlines to cast early votes. Also, General Registrar Donna Patterson told reporters that the long lines in Virginia Beach had been like that each day since early voting began about one month ago. Add to that number the 55,000 mail-in ballots the registrar received to that point.
In North Carolina, about 163,000 votes were cast in person across North Carolina on Saturday, bringing the total to 828,456 in the state — more than double the number of people in North Carolina who went to the polls at this time in the 2016 election.
“Texas has been under siege confronting voter suppression from multiple fronts from our Governor Greg Abbott to the state higher courts,” noted Sonny Messiah Jiles, the publisher, and CEO of The Houston Defender Media Group, DefenderNetwork.com.
“It is unbelievable or ridiculous for a county with 2.4 million registered voters to have one location to drop off mail-in ballots,” Jiles remarked.
“Despite their efforts, the Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a smart young millennial, has been strategic and innovative with drive-thru voting, doubling the early voting locations and the historical move of 24-hour voting. But aside from voting access, we need to beware not to be bamboozled listening to the polls and just go and vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
Numerous voter suppression tactics have been used in Texas and throughout the nation, added Patrick Washington, CEO, and co-publisher of the Dallas Weekly. “Like the late-night ruling, from a 5th Circuit Court via a three judge panel, all of whom appointed by President Trump to uphold Governor Abbot’s mandate to limit one ballot drop box for millions of voters in Dallas county,” Washington observed.
However, he continued: “Despite this deliberate, detrimental move, the night before early voting in Texas, I am pleased to see that the very voters that may have been affected in Dallas counties came to the polls big.
“I witnessed many volunteers at the Martin Luther King Center assisting the elderly with remaining comfortable with chairs and water during the long wait and assisting first-time voters by explaining the sample ballots. To know that ballot records are being broken in counties all over Texas doesn’t shock me. Unfortunately, a lot of tragic events due to racism and police brutality have occurred during Trump’s time in office.
“People are tired. People can’t see family and friends like they used to. In some cases, people are unemployed, angry, scared or maybe all of the above. So, in any case, people have the time to exercise their civic duty and vote.”
Even in states like Indiana, voter suppression efforts haven’t stopped Black people from lining up at the polls. “Indiana has some incredibly restrictive voter laws, and currently we only have one early voting site in all of Indianapolis,” stated Robert Shegog, CEO at the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper and Indiana Minority Business Magazine.
“A few more will open Oct. 24, but significantly more are needed given the size of the city. However, it is very refreshing to see so many people voting early. This has been a trend in Indianapolis for over ten years now, and the numbers keep increasing,” Shegog noted.
The Indianapolis Recorder reported that there were 13,206 votes cast through the first nine days of early voting – or nearly 10,000 more in the same period in 2008 and 5,000 more than in 2016.

Newswire : Nine Civil Rights organizations led by Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law file Amicus Brief In SCOTUS case regarding discrimination In public accommodations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A broad coalition of civil rights organizations led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief Monday for the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the justices will decide whether discrimination by businesses is lawful in our country.
The Masterpiece case is part of a trend involving businesses denying goods and services to same-sex couples, and the consequences could include the nullification of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. The brief was filed in the wake of the Justice Department’s unusual move of filing a brief in the case, in which the Department argued that such discrimination is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Throughout this country’s history, public accommodation laws have played a vital role in ensuring that all businesses are open to everyone on a nondiscriminatory basis and that individuals from marginalized communities are not treated like second-class citizens,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly and emphatically rejected challenges to public accommodation laws similar to the challenges brought in the Masterpiece case, and we expect them to do so once again.”
In their brief filed Monday, nine civil rights organizations underscore the importance of public accommodations laws that protect racial, ethnic and religious minorities from discrimination. These organizations express concern that the Masterpiece case could pave the way for businesses to lawfully discriminate against racial and other minorities pursuant to a free speech exemption.
In addition to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the brief was joined by: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Color of Change, the National Action Network, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In their brief, the organizations state:
“Despite the advances our country has made in eradicating segregation and other forms of invidious discrimination, African Americans, including LGBT African Americans who experience discrimination at the intersection of race and sexual orientation, continue to suffer from structural and pervasive discrimination, as evidenced by the recent increase in hate crimes across the country. Discrimination infects the marketplace as well, where minority consumers continue to receive worse treatment and experience disparate access to goods and services as a result of business owners’ biased attitudes. Today, public accommodation laws remain vital by providing relief when consumers of color experience discrimination.”
“We are proud to stand on the right side of history and join this friend of the court brief. It is beyond shameful that the Justice Department that fought against DOMA and supported marriage equality is now advocating for a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Their position runs counter to constitutional principles and recent Supreme Court precedent. This case is not about the cake. It is about dignity, fairness, and equality.” Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund believes that this case presents a direct assault on the civil rights laws, both state and federal, that protect everyone from discrimination. It is imperative that the Supreme Court rejects this effort to undermine the enforcement of those protections central to American society.” Kenneth Kimerling, Legal Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
“We’re standing with the LGBTQI community for equality. A ruling permitting discrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission would in effect legalize discrimination against LGBTQI people, women, minority faiths, and people of color. If the Supreme Court allows for a broad exemption in non-discrimination laws for so-called ‘creative’ enterprises, this would open the floodgates for discrimination by other business owners. No one is above the law, and it is our duty to rebuff attempts to legalize discrimination.” Vincent Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
“Black people continue to face blatant profiling and racial discrimination in public accommodations. We will not stay quiet as businesses seek to roll back critical civil rights laws that we have fought so hard for and that protect our right to participate in the economy free of discrimination.” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
“Today, we stand united against prejudice and discrimination in any form. Inclusion and equality are what make America great. Public accommodation laws serve a vital role in securing equality for all.” National Action Network’s Washington Bureau
“The NAACP has long advocated for equality in public accommodations, as these laws ensure that businesses treat customers equally. It is against this backdrop that businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop seek to upend laws that protect some of our most vulnerable communities.” Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP
“Public accommodation laws protect consumers’ rights to shop wherever they please, no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. It is unacceptable to suggest that the biased attitudes of business owners deserve more protection than the rights of consumers.” Marc Morial, CEO, National Urban League.