Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger defended Georgia’s new voting laws from charges of voter suppression by calling Stacey Abrams’ criticisms “part of her hustle for making money.”
Raffensperger, now facing re-election as a Trump target, defended Georgia’s new restrictive voting laws yesterday on Fox's Your World show. He described them as “sensible” and “measured,” even though, as USA Today explains, the new laws take power away from him, give it to someone the Republican-run legislature chooses and allows the state's election board, now with a majority of legislative appointees, to “remove and replace election officials administering the vote at the level where the real elections work happens — the county level.”
None of that was mentioned in this discussion. Raffensperger waved away President Biden's criticism by saying he should “read the bill.”
“For example, we’re moving away from signature match. We’ve actually been sued by both the Democrat party and Republican parties over signature match,” Raffensperger said. “We’re now moving to a very objective measure of using driver’s license number and also your birthday date, month, and year. Very objective, it’s being used right now in both Minnesota, Nebraska, blue states, red states. It’s a good measure.”
Host Charles Payne claimed there are “extreme similarities” between the Colorado and Georgia voting laws. He asked Raffensperger to respond to “the most liberal of media outlets” saying that the bill is “some sort of payback” and that now he’s “trying to get in good grace and good favor with the Trump wing of the Republican party.”
“I had nothing to do with the writing of the legislation,” Raffensperger replied. “They’re using SB 202, the Democrats are, as a cudgel or also as a way of pushing HR 1, which is a federal takeover of elections. I think also probably Stacey Abrams has already poll-tested the word ‘Jim Crow,’ found that that plays well, just like when she poll-tested the word ‘voter suppression,’ back in 2014. So this is part of her hustle for making money. She’s raised over a hundred million dollars now, with her voter-suppression hustle, which is not based in reality.”
There was no objection to that rhetoric from the African American host.
Raffensperger cherry-picked more of the provisions: “Look at what the bill actually does. We’ve increased early voting from 16 days minimum up to 17, allowing Sunday voting. … Making sure counties continue to improve on keeping lines short. Lines longer than one hour are not allowed. You’ll have to break the precincts in half or actually add additional equipment and poll workers. All good stuff.”
FACT CHECK: From CNN: Georgia's law “shortens the duration of the absentee voting period,” “significantly shrinks” the length of runoffs from nine weeks to four, eliminates two of the three weeks of early voting for runoffs that was formerly required, and “limits how many drop boxes each county can have, how many hours and days the boxes can be open, and where they can be located.” The law also “imposes significant new obstacles to voting.”
None of that was mentioned in this interview, either.
You can watch it below, from the April 7, 2021 Your World.
Let’s remember that Raffensperger and Kemp were caught red-handed purging tens of thousands of Georgians from the voter rolls in the run-up to the 2020 election. It was only because of the hard work of Stacey Abrams and countless local activists in Georgia that the word got out and most of those voters were able to restore their enfranchisement in time. (And many thousands more were able to register for the first time) Had the activists not exposed what Raffensperger had been doing, the election would likely have gone to Trump and the 2 Senate seats would never have gone to run-offs. And this was considered to be fully legal and ethical by Republicans in Georgia. These guys are not heroes just because they defied the Pence White House. They’re despicable men who chose not to do something even more odious while everyone was looking directly at them.
The new Georgia law is designed to make it extremely difficult for black voters in Georgia to repeat what they did in 2020. It has specific provisions targeting them. The most obvious one is Section 33, which makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to give voters waiting on long lines food or drink. I note that this Section already had language barring anyone soliciting voters waiting on line, so the new language about “money or gifts including but not limited to food and drink” is superfluous in barring that activity. In other words, the existing law ALREADY BARRED GIFTS. So when Angry Right Wingers try the game about “we’re just blocking people from handing out Biden/Harris water bottles!”, the answer is “That was already illegal!” The new language is just meant to try to make it unpleasant for voters waiting for hours on line.
Raffsenperger says that the law bars lines that go on for more than an hour. That’s not what it says. The law says that AFTER THE ELECTION, the election officials can evaluate the precincts and see if any were too crowded, and then set up new ones FOR THE NEXT ELECTION. And that language is frankly an afterthought.
The more crucial language is what allows the new fully Right Wing State Election Board to get rid of up to 4 local superintendents (such as in Fulton County) if they wish, and allows the counties to reset their precincts and change the polling locations – with many voters only finding out when they get to their usual polling place and just see a sign that the polling place has been moved. Those voters then drive around Atlanta to find a new polling place, wait on line for 2 hours and when they finally get inside, the new law includes language where they will be told they may not vote here because they are not in the correct precinct. Those voters then rinse and repeat this maneuver throughout the day until after 5pm, at which point if they get to the front of the line, they are grudgingly allowed to submit a provisional ballot but ONLY if they sign an affidavit and other documentation. The point of all of this is to make the process so unpleasant and so onerous that many of them will throw up their hands and walk away or choose not to vote.
For the ones who do get through all the rigamarole, the new language allows any Georgian elector to challenge the status of an unlimited number of other Georgians, so those votes may get tossed – if the registrations weren’t already tossed in the manner that Kemp and Raffsenperger practiced in 2019 and 2020.
For the absentee voters, the time window for requesting and processing those ballots has been greatly shrunk, and far more onerous conditions have been put on, including telling those voters to write their ID information on the inside AND OUTSIDE of their ballot envelopes, thus exposing those voters to identity theft if they even have the materials. The earlier practice was signature comparison, which would not expose those voters’ drivers’ license numbers or anything else. And of course the rural voters who don’t have that ID will be writing in part of their SSN and hoping that the ballots aren’t challenged.
For early voters, the time window has been shrunk. Raffsenperger is being disingenuous when he says that Sunday voting is now “allowed”. He knows full well that Republican county officials will never allow this. It’s at the discretion of those officials, not at the request of the voters.
And yes, the number of drop boxes is down to one per 100,000 voters, which will make life interesting in heavily populated areas…
The point of all of this is that there are plenty of reasons to condemn the obvious attempt at voter restriction here. Angry Right Wingers like Eric Bolling should stop lying about this law and admit that yes, they are trying to restrict voter access. It’s frankly rich that the legislation starts with the false premise that it’s intended to “restore confidence” in the electoral process after what the legislation asserts were equally motivated allegations of voter suppression and “rampant voter fraud”. In fact, there was ACTUAL voter suppression by Kemp and Raffsenperger, and there were a multitude of lies about “fraud” by angry Right Wingers. If the Georgia General Assembly was truly interested in restoring confidence in their voting procedures, they would stop trying to toss voters off the roles, and they would tell the Right Wing to stop lying about “fraud”. It would save everyone a heck of a lot of time and aggravation in dealing with vicious partisan voting interference like this.
An aspect of the GA law that I only recently began to understand (thanks to Kevin’s fact-full comments on the Alveda King thread below) is the easily foreseeable outcome of allowing anyone to contest the eligibility of an unlimited number of potential voters. I’ve come to realise that that little detail has potential for sidelining thousands of voters per perpetrator, with the latter contesting people gleaned from the phone book or from a list provided by the local GOP chapter (along, perhaps, with promise of a bonus for good work).
Apart from reducing the number of voters, it has potential for poisoning whole communities for decades, pitting stranger against stranger, neighbour against neighbour, family against family, business rivals, etc. And they would get away with it by pleading “good faith”. All it would take is one particularly vicious single-minded community member of the sort that participated – unwittingly, they would say – in the insurrection of Jan.6th.