Around the world, we are seeing a new trend of democratic erosion spring up, especially in the United States. In the 2018 Georgia race for Governor, we saw two versions of Georgia pitted against each other as reported by the New York Times. On the Democratic Party side, we have an African American Stacey Abrams who not only represents the city of Atlanta a very diverse city. Which is home to significant political figures, Historically black colleges and universities, and black entrepreneurs who have revolutionized Atlanta. Stacey Abrams was looking to make a huge impact for a more progressive and diverse future for all Georgians. Her opponent former Secretary of State Brian Kemp who bragged on the fact in many of his ads that he would round up illegal aliens, showcased guns in support of the 2nd amendment, and pledged to keep criminals out of Georgia, and aligned himself with former President Donald Trump. Much of the lower class and poorer whites who live in rural areas across Georgia openly still fly the Confederate flag proudly as a symbol of hate and white supremacy. In this blog, you will read how one politician used their power of office to exclude and suppress thousands of votes during the 2018 Georgia election.
In 2018 it was reported by the Secretary of State website that nearly four million Americans living in the state of Georgia turned out to vote still, the largest voter turnout to date. Many voters were turned away at the polls for undisclosed reasons. News outlets were reporting that many voting machines were not working properly or many polling sites never received the machines. Under the watchful eye of the secretary of state Brian Kemp, many Georgians who lived in democratic communities were unable to exercise their constitutional right to elect a fair and impartial candidate. Even though Mr. Kemp has denied that voter suppression took place under his watch as the secretary of state, he never removed his self from his position. After the November 6th race, Mr. Kemp resigned as the secretary of state, after he and other state officials grossly mishandled the election suppressing many Georgia voters, in particular people of color.
After the election, there were lots of mail-in ballots that were discovered in old warehouses and other places, that were never counted. In all terms, this explains voter suppression and the race should never have been called until every ballot was counted. We saw this with the 2020 Presidential election, former President Donald Trump screamed from the heavens that voter suppression had taken place and Democrats were trying to steal the election. Although his claims were not true, countless independent agencies and federal officials stepped in to ensure that every vote was counted. According to former President Jimmy Carter, a proud Georgian stated that “there was a conflict of interest that threatened our fundamental principle of a democratic election- former secretary of state Brian Kemp should have stepped aside in the electoral process, letting it be managed by an independent and more impartial election authority.”
Even though what Brian Kemp did was horrible, he took the necessary steps to suppress the votes of minorities in Georgia; if he wanted to keep Georgia a Republican state. He used every tool and weapon inside his playbook to keep the more progressive Stacy Abrams from winning, in the years before running for office, she noticed that millions of voters were not registered to vote in the state, which prompted her to start the new Georgia project to get people registered. As the Secretary of State, Kemp saw first hand that this new wave of registered voters could be harmful not only to the state of Georgia but also to the Republican party. During the election kemp and his administration orchestrated county elected officials to shut more than 200 polling sites down, the majority being in minority communities and poor neighborhoods based on an article written by the Atlantic. Georgia was able to block over 35,000 citizens it succeeded with the help of a screening process called “exact match”. According to an article in the Atlantic (Anderson 2018), an exact match is described as only accepting newly registered voters if all their information matches in the state’s database precisely. A Superior court judge in Georgia ruled that the exact match was systematically biased against minority voters, republican officials created a new exact match program, however, it still used similar language from the last program and still excluded thousands of minority voters.
Had this type of race happened in another country, there is without a doubt that the United States media and Federal government would have questioned its legitimacy and probably called for a re-count and stated that the process was undemocratic. Allowing a state official to be a candidate and the voting overseer is truly criminal not only to Democracy but to millions of Georgians. Brien Kemp’s passion for wanting to be Georgia’s next governor hurt the people of Georgia especially in rural areas where the healthcare and education systems are failing and on the brink of closing, jobs are being lost, and people are hurting to survive. Like most Republicans, they fail to extend healthcare to millions of families simply because the bill was created by former President Barack Obama and his administration. What we see in Georgia is a classic case of US versus them (McCoy, Rahman, Somer; 2018) the Republican Party wants to continue what they feel is a way of life that helps the wealthy and rich. Whereas the Democrat part wants to help everyone succeed and move away from poverty. The 2018 election created a cloud of political polarization. The election took its toll on people’s social life, friends and families were split. Communities were segregated along the party lines. Democratic Party on one side and Republicans on the other.
So what can we as Americans do about this, the first would be to create legislation requiring that a candidate can not remain in his/her position if running for office. The second would be removing the exact match program that systematically excludes minorities from registering as new voters in a state where they live and pay taxes. Lastly, stop pitting Georgians against each other, we should be voting on the best candidate that is going to help us move into a better future now and for our future generations.
- https://ww w.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/elections/georgia-governor-race-kemp-abrams.html
- Polarization and the Global Crisis of Democracy: Common Pattern s, Dynamics, and Pernicious Consequences for Democratic Polities (Mccoy, Rahman, Somer)