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Black Voters Matter: Group Sues Georgia for Purging 200,000 Voters Ahead of 2020 Election

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Image Credit: Twitter/@BlackVotersMtr

On the voter registration deadline for Georgians who want to vote in two Senate runoff elections on January 5, we speak with Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, about why the state is “ground zero” for Republican voter suppression efforts. Black Voters Matter has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Georgia’s current secretary of state improperly removed nearly 200,000 voters from the rolls. Those voters “were purged illegally” ahead of the 2020 election and almost certainly affected the results, says Albright. “At the end of the day, this election … should not have even been close.” We’re also joined by Emory University professor Carol Anderson, who argues President Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of the presidential election reflect the entire party’s attitude toward voting. “He’s not an aberration,” she says. “He is the culmination of decades of the Republicans hollering voting fraud, of creating the theater of voter fraud as a means to justify massive voter suppression.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. That, “Root and Crown” by Young Jesus. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue to discuss what took place in Georgia this weekend, ahead of the January 5th runoff senatorial elections. Sunday’s debates for Georgia’s Senate candidates fell on the eve of the registration deadline today for Georgians who want to vote in the special runoff election on January 5th. Yes, that deadline is today, Monday, December 7th.

This comes after Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger repeated his demand that President Trump stop promoting conspiracy theories about a stolen election, saying Trump’s rhetoric is fueling violent threats against election officials.

SECRETARY OF STATE BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of a growing threat environment for election workers who are simply doing their jobs.

AMY GOODMAN: But that’s exactly what President Trump did this weekend in Georgia, continued to deny that Biden had won the elections, continued to attack the Republican leadership of Georgia, which in the past he had always supported. He even made a call to the Republican Governor Brian Kemp before he came to the rally, demanding that he have the Legislature choose Trump-allied electors for the Electoral College to overturn the will of the people. Georgia voted, for the first time in years, narrowly, for the Democrat, for Joe Biden.

For more, we are joined by three guests, and we’re going to begin with Atlanta organizer Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter.

We thank you so much for being with us, Cliff. Interestingly, you are suing — your organization, along with a number of organizations, are suing the secretary of state of Georgia. Explain why.

CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Yeah, thank you for having me, Amy.

Back in 2019, and really in each year, Georgia has done a series of voter purges. And in 2019, what we discovered is that there were 200,000 who were purged, allegedly because they had moved, who had in fact not moved. Their addresses had not changed.

The problem is that the secretary of state used an illegal vendor. They used a nonofficial source for the addresses to send out the notifications that they use to verify whether or not folks had moved. Then they got — when they didn’t get a response, they used that as a rationale to purge people.

What we argued is that there was really only one vendor, there was only one official way to check those addresses, and if they had done so, then they would have seen that those folks had not moved, that 200,000 had not moved, and so they were purged illegally. In fact, when we sent out postcards to notify these voters that they had been purged and that they need to check their registration status, out of 100,000 that we sent out, we only got back a couple of hundred, which means that the vast majority of those addresses that we sent them to, using the official vendor, actually made it to the people that it was supposed to make it to. So that’s the basis of our lawsuit.

At the end of the day, you know, this election has gone into a recount, two, three different recounts. It should not have even been close. And that’s one of the main things that we want folks to recognize about Georgia elections, is that without the suppression that’s been taking place, under previous Secretary of State Kemp, as well as the current secretary of state — we don’t want him to be viewed as a profile in courage. He’s still been a large-scale voter suppression advocate. He’s still intimidating voting rights organizations. And so, without that form of intimidation, this would not have even been a close election.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that further. How is he intimidating voting rights organizations?

CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Yeah, just as an example, I mean, just in this past week, even as he and his staff have been saying things like, you know, “Somebody’s going to get hurt,” they’ve also announced that they’re investigating four organizations that do voter registration, including our dear friends at the New Georgia Project, which has been a constant target of the Secretary of State’s Office. So, you know, what we have to recognize is, it’s nice for you to say, “Hey, Mr. President, somebody’s going to get hurt. There’s going to be violence,” but the fact of the matter is, when you lead this kind of propaganda that there’s voter fraud taking place — right? — whether it’s coming out of Raffensperger’s mouth or whether it’s coming out of Loeffler’s mouth on the debate stage, when you push that narrative that you’ve got these organizations out there that are doing these nefarious activities, that are using — that are bringing people into the state and having people vote illegally, when you do that kind of soft narrative or soft incites of violence, it has the same impact of what Trump is saying. And that’s been going on in the state for far too long, and Secretary Raffensperger has his hands dirty with it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Saturday’s rally that Trump held in Georgia, much of his speech focusing on the November presidential election results. He repeated his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the election and called for sweeping barriers to voting access in the future.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We need to pass landmark election reform, including voter ID. Is that so bad? Residency verification, like we live in the country, we live in the state. Citizenship confirmation. They want to say, “Oh, he doesn’t have to be a citizen.” You’ve got to see what’s voting. These, they’re not citizens. “Are you a citizen?” “No, I’m not citizen.” “Do you speak English?” “No, no. No English. Speak no English.”

AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to this, Cliff Albright? And talk about the effect this is having in Georgia. And who has to register by today? Of course, regular voters, for example, who voted in November, they are registered, so they don’t have to register. But what do people have to do? And when can they start voting for the January 5th senatorial runoffs?

CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Yeah, so there’s a couple of ways for me to respond to Trump’s comments. I mean, on the one hand, you know, the simplest answer is, obviously, he’s making things up. These are all untrue. This is disinformation. This is, you know, hatemongering. This is all the things that we know it is, right?

The other way that I answer that question, though, honestly, Amy, is that I say, “You know what? If he wants to come to Georgia, come on. If he wants to do his little hate rallies, go on and do them.” Because what he’s doing, in part, is, for all those voters who were celebrating the fact that we beat him — right? — and we turned and we flipped Georgia, but that may have been thinking, “OK, I did my job in November. You know, I don’t really have to get as involved in this runoff election” — if there are folks that were out there thinking about that, Black voters, in particular, guess what: He is reminding us of just how important this runoff election is. Keep in mind that he — between he and Pence, I think they came to Georgia at least three or four times leading up to the general election, and that didn’t work out too well for them. So, if he wants to come and do his little KKK rallies, that’s fine with me.

The other answer, though, to this is, in terms of the voter registration deadline, is that, yes, today is the deadline. We’re encouraging everybody to register. We’re encouraging folks who are already registered to get 10 other people to register, because everybody’s got a role to play in being an organizer and reaching out to folks to get them registered. You know, there’s 23,000, I think it is, 18-year-olds — I mean, people turning 18 between November 3rd and January 5th. We’ve been doing outreach targeted to them, you know, formerly incarcerated folks that have the right to vote. Anybody who is not yet registered, today is the deadline. We’re encouraging everybody to go.

And we’re encouraging everybody to check their registration status. That’s the other piece of this. We want people to be newly registered, but even if you’re already registered, check your registration status, so that we can make sure that there’s no funny business going on and that you’re registered, that you know what your accurate and correct polling place is.

And we’re doing all these things across the state. We’ve got partners, community-based partners, in 50 counties throughout the state of Georgia — Middle Georgia, Metro Atlanta, the midsize cities, Southwest Georgia, all across the state — where, on a daily basis, we’ve got partners going out reminding people about the voter registration deadlines and that not only can they be voting by mail right now, but that starting next Monday, December 14th, early vote starts in Georgia.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Carol Anderson, your most recent book, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Can you talk about what’s happened since you’ve written that book? Do you hold out more hope? And can you talk about the effect of the president of the United States continually alleging voter fraud, continually saying, as he did in Valdosta on Saturday night, again saying that he actually won the election?

CAROL ANDERSON: Yes, this is — I think of Trump as the — he’s not an aberration; he’s the culmination. He is the culmination of decades of the Republicans hollering voting fraud, of creating the theater of voter fraud as a means to justify massive voter suppression, as a means to justify voter ID, where the states’ legislatures are identifying IDs that African Americans don’t have and making those those the access point to the ballot box, in terms of shutting down polling stations, in terms of creating the image, the imagery, again — you heard him talking about all of these noncitizens voting. “Do you speak English?” Well, the Voting Rights Act has language in there that deals with communities that have sizable non-English-speaking American citizens and that states are to be responsive to that population by printing the ballots in that language, as well as having poll workers and election folks there who can help in that language. And so, what you hear in this kind of —

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

CAROL ANDERSON: — xenophobic thing is to undermine American democracy. That’s what this is.

AMY GOODMAN: Carol Anderson, I want to thank you so much for being with us, professor at Emory University, author of One Person, No Vote; Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter; and I want to thank Democratic state Representative Bee Nguyen of Georgia.

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