When you think about Democratic Erosion, you usually think about countries, but the threat has always been at home and polarizing at the state level. We have reached a new troubling time in our Democracy, especially in the state of Georgia, in terms of the midterm election for governor. Brian Kemp was the mastermind of voter suppression against his opponent Stacey Abrams in 2018. Voters in Georgia were purged from voter rolls, absentee ballots were rejected, and polling places around the state were suddenly closed. This is a prime example of votes being suppressed. To put the icing on the cake, Mr. Brian Kemp himself was Secretary of State, so he oversaw every single action.
We all know that Georgia is a deep red state and has pretty much always been this way, and that is why this election was at the forefront of everyone’s mind because it was a hard battle fought by Ms. Abrams herself. According to Nancy Bermeo, Democratic Backsliding takes place when concrete action occurs, such as votes being suppressed, voter turnout, and various other forms (Bermeo). The kinds of Democratic Backsliding have differentiated in frequency through time, such as Jim Crow Laws compared to now where it is strategically like hampering with voter registration. The democratic breakdown is more of a gradual process. Over 300,000 votes were purged in Georgia just before the gubernatorial election went underway (Niesse, Mark). Votes were purged and removed under the stipulations that they moved, but the catch is, the people still actually resided at the address where they are registered. Their registration became null. It was canceled so permanently if they showed up to vote, they would be turned away.
Democracy in the United States must be guided not only by the Constitution but also by informal norms like mutual toleration. In sum, disagreements will be had between Republicans and Democrats must both recognize that their challengers are legitimate. Acceptance and recognizing publicly to their base is crucial that the opposite side is just as devoted, and the other hand can administer and govern legitimately. What Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt expressed is something Brian Kemp did not give to Stacey Abrams. Just before it was time to vote, Kemp came out with scant evidence that the Democrats, which is the opposing side, were under investigation for allegedly trying to hack the state’s voter registration files. By setting in motion the probe so close to the election, it became a threat to Stacey Abrams and the Democrats.
Perilous times are ahead of us. If Brian Kemp were so focused on election integrity, then instead of overseeing votes being purged and making baseless accusations, the right thing would have been to step down as Secretary of State. Though efforts have been made to delegitimize elections in Georgia, we are not backsliding completely. Stacey Abrams took matters into her own hands by launching a sweeping voter registration, the Fair Fight Action, in hopes of changing the structure of Georgia’s electoral system. Part of the organization’s mission is to allot more polling stations, and policies on registration. Amid the current pandemic of COVID-19, Abram’s Fair Fight Action put their support behind mail-in voting. It can be reliable and secure. It does not force voters to choose between their well being and participating in our Democracy. Looking forward, malfunctioning machines and long wait times will soon be a thing of the past. Enhancing and protecting our Democracy is now the focus. The Democracy of the United States is embedded in the belief that every citizen has a say in our government’s leadership.
Bermeo, Nancy. “On Democratic Backsliding.” Journal of Democracy, vol. 27, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.1353/jod.2016.0012.
Davies, Dave. “’How Democracies Die’ Authors Say Trump Is A Symptom Of ‘Deeper Problems’.” NPR, NPR, 22 Jan. 2018, www.npr.org/2018/01/22/579670528/how-democracies-die-authors-say-trump-is-a-symptom-of-deeper-problems.
Niesse, Mark. “Purge of More than 300,000 Voter Registrations Planned in Georgia.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 30 Oct. 2019, www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/purge-more-than-300-000-voter-registrations-planned-georgia/qfxvTqS7KenXjvKN208yII/.