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Georgia's Election Further Illuminates Why We Need Federal Anti-Racist Voter Protections

NBC News' Headline today was "Georgia's election 'catastrophe' in largely minority areas sparks an investigation."

But for many of us, we are very clear why and how this happened. Organizers like Black Voters Matter, and Fair Fight understand that voter suppression in Georgia has been happening in plain sight for years and that it is one of the biggest threats to our Democracy today. Especially for Black voters, young voters, immigrant voters, low-income voters, rural voters, elderly voters, and voters from other groups that have been marginalized by our own governments.

When we talk about the voter suppression seen on Election Day in Georgia on June 9, it is essential that we recognize two important truths:

➡️ There is a throughline that connects back to the 1960's Civil Rights Movement and fight for Black Voter protections, and,

➡️ There is a throughline that connects from the 1960s back to the failed promise the United States government made to its newly freed Black Citizens in 1865 when they were emancipated from Chattel Slavery and promised voting rights in 1870.

State Governments have been denying African Americans the right to vote since their emancipation from Chattel Slavery in 1865. #ReadThatAgain.

And even though the #FifteenthAmendment to the #Constitution prohibits federal and state governments from denying African Americans the right to vote (starting in 1870 when the amendment was ratified), this has never been universally protected and enforced. #ReadThatAgain.

So, 100 years after the 15th Amendment was ratified, Congress passed the #VotingRightsActof1965 (VRA) because the White elected officials that made up the consolidated power of local and state governments were still denying Blacks their constitutional right to vote.

And these governments haven’t stopped their voter suppression tactics: they have simply reinvented what voter suppression looks like by creating "race neutral" policies that are still racist in impact because they create deep racial inequities by suppressing the Black Vote. As the North Carolina Supreme Court said in a recent ruling, these governments are doing it with "surgical precision".

And now here we are, June 9, 2020.

  • 55 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • 150 years after the 15th Amendment was ratified.

And governments across the Southern States are continuing the very American Tradition of Black Voter Suppression.

By this point, I know you've already read a lot. But there is more that you need to know to understand what happened in Georgia today. There’s a historical and modern context for the Georgia Voter Suppression that is reported in the NBC News article at the top of this blog post. We need to know our history so that we can collectively be more discerning when we see these headlines about "election catastrophes" in communities of color.


On Becoming Anti-Racist

Professor, scholar, writer Ibram X. Kendi says that we are either Racist or Anti-Racist.

We either proliferate policies and/or ideas that eradicate racial inequities, which makes us Antiracist.

Or, We are Racist through either our proliferation of policies and/or ideas that create racial inequities. We can also be racist through our inaction to address ideas or policies that create racial inequities.

My hope is that the information I provide below, this crash course in history and constitutional amendments, law, and SCOTUS cases, provides you with context for development more discernment so that you may be a better Anti-Racist ally and advocate.


Main Points (TL;DR):

This brief is broken into 6 sections that are important to understand what happened in today's election in Georgia on June 9.

1️⃣ Southern Republicans Have Been Suppressing Votes Since 2013
2️⃣ Today’s Voter Suppression Is Why The Federal Government Enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965
3️⃣ In 2013, the Supreme Court Invalidated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave Southern States the Green Light For Voter Suppression
4️⃣ Which Is How We Got To Today and Georgia’s 7 years of Purging Voters. (And How Republican Voter Suppression May Have Cost Georgia a Democratic Governor in 2018)
5️⃣ In 2018, Georgia’s Secretary of State and Chair of State Elections Stayed In Both Roles to Manage the Election WHILE Concurrently Running for Governor. (Ignoring clear conflicts of interest and previous good faith acts from former Secretaries of State that stepped down when they were in similar positions.)
6️⃣ Since the VRA was gutted in 2013, Georgia Republicans have purged 1.3 million voters.
  • Since 2013, Georgia has closed 214 polling places. In 2020, in Metro Atlanta, where the majority of Black voters live, there were 80 fewer polling places for the June 9 primary which left 16,000 active registered voters from 5 precincts having to vote in 1 polling place.


1️⃣ Southern Republicans Have Been Suppressing Votes Since 2013

Republican-led Southern States, like Georgia, have been engaged in voter suppression tactics for seven years, starting in 2013, which include closing voting sites and purging voter registration rolls, all to make it more difficult for Black voters (and voters of color) to exercise their right to vote.

The GOP says their actions are to reduce voter fraud. But federal courts and even State Supreme Courts have continually disproved this position. The impartial courts have ruled time and time again that the GOP is doing this to restrict Black voters.

Black voters in the American South generally vote for Democratic Party candidates. If Republican Legislatures and Governors can make it harder for Blacks to vote, they will see a net reduction in the number of Democratic ballots cast.


2️⃣ Today’s Voter Suppression Is Why the Federal Government Enacted The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Voter suppression happens across the nation. I’m calling out the Southern States specifically because this is where there is still a concentration of Black voters and Black Voter Suppression efforts in Republican-led State Legislatures