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

( – 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 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:  Both Abrams and Gillum fall just short of Governors’ Mansions

By Barrington M. Salmon


Stacey Abrams and Andrew and C.J. Gillum – In the end, Stacey Abrams said voter suppression and systematic voter manipulation by former Secretary of State and Governor-Elect Brian Kemp tilted the Georgia governor’s race in his favor. After 10 days of legal, electoral and other maneuvering, Abrams bowed out of the race, ending a combative and bitter contest in her bid to become the first Black woman governor in the country. An attorney, author and former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams called Kemp “the architect of voter suppression” and accused him of purging voters rolls, delaying and denying new registrations and generally disenfranchising African-American and other non-white voters. “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” said Abrams at a Nov. 16 press conference. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.” Abrams castigated Kemp – who served since 2012 as secretary of state until he stepped down last week – making it clear that she refuses to act as if the election was normal, while pointing out that she wasn’t making a concession speech. She castigated Kemp for the “deliberate and intentional” voter suppression he employed and promised to continue to fight for fair and comprehensive elections. “Pundits and hyper-partisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order. You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate,” she said. “They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy. You see, as a leader I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke but stoicism is a luxury and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.” Investigative Journalist Greg Palast filed an affidavit on November 15 in federal district court in Atlanta in support of the Common Cause Georgia’s case filed against Kemp. Palast said on his website that an expert report from one of his consultants shows that 340,134 voters were wrongly purged from Georgia’s voter rolls – without notice – by Kemp in 2016 and 2017 while Kemp was Secretary of State and preparing his run for Governor. There are documented efforts of Kemp’s machinations to suppress the vote in investigations by the Associated Press, Mother Jones and other news outlets. Kemp has removed significant swathes of African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos from voter rolls by purging more than 1.5 million voters – almost 11 percent of those registered – from the rolls between 2016 and 2018. He also closed 214 polling stations, the majority of them in poor and non-White neighborhoods. And using a program called ‘exact match,’ he blocked almost 35,000 Georgia residents from registering from 2013 to 2016. Exact match only grants residents the right to vote if their registrations exactly match information found in state data bases. Registrations aren’t accepted if there is a name difference, a misspelled word or an accent. Kemp’s office also put more than 50,000 voter registrations on hold by using the unreliable “exact match” system. Fully 70 percent of those are Black. Abrams’ election run electrified African-Americans around the state. And the Black-woman-powered ground game brought Abrams to within two percentage points of beating Kemp. “We’ve been working in Georgia all year,” said Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “Sisters laid the groundwork. We’ve been doing voter registration. While the focus has been on leaders, this was a coalition effort of women like Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, who was all over the state. We were phone banking since the primaries calling Black women. People like Deborah Scott and Felicia Davis and groups like the Southern Black Women’s Initiative and Shirley Sherrod were canvassing neighborhoods, developing voter profiles and putting women together.” Campbell said the emergence of Donald Trump, the rise in hate crimes and the ratcheting up of racism are of most concern to Black women. This has animated their resistance to Trump and the Republican agenda. “The whole notion is that our lives are at stake. It’s in our DNA,” she said. “There is a drumbeat, a drumbeat knowing that this country is in peril. We’re seeing, feeling and hearing it. It took a minute for folks to tune in.” Campbell said campaigns like Abrams represents a power shift and will have important implications for African-Americans in 2020 and beyond. In Florida, after a flurry of lawsuits, uncertainty about the fate of uncounted ballots, and two South Florida counties failing to meet the deadline, a machine recount determined that Tallahassee Mayor was unable to catch Republican Ron DeSantis in that gubernatorial contest. Gillum trailed DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of one vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week. Of eight million votes cast, the margin was a mere 0.41 percent. Despite the apparent insurmountable lead, Gillum would not concede and called for counting to continue. His lawyer hinted at a lawsuit. “A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said in published reports. “As today’s unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process.” There grew a cacophony of calls for Gillum to concede. So far, he has refused. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board has called him “ungracious,” saying that his refusal to concede is “a display of ill-grace that won’t help his political future in Florida.” Ultimate, he conceded saying he will not stop working for fair elections in Florida.“We wanted to make sure that every vote, including those that were undervotes and overvotes –as long as it was a legally cast vote – we wanted those votes to be counted,” Gillum said. He concluded, “We also want you to know that even though this election may be beyond us, that this – although nobody wanted to be governor more than me – this was not just about an election cycle…This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, our state, and our communities.” This story includes information from The Tallahassee Democrat, and NPR