Of Suppression And Theft

I have a paramount piece of advice to all on the political left who are so certain of a blue wave in the 2018 midterms: Not so fast! Let’s explore.

I remember randomly running into a lady on Election Day morning who was wearing a Hillary t-shirt. She was concerned about what the outcome would be that evening as we all watched the returns come in. I all but guaranteed her that Hillary would be declared the winner minutes after 11pm EST. What actually transpired was that I spent the evening and wee hours of the morning in something close to a state of shock. The rest, as we say, is history.

The key to any close election, especially a mid-term, is voter turnout. How many and how many of them are yours. If more of “your people” turn out you win and vice versa. This fact is far from lost on Republicans. In fact voter suppression has been a major part of their standard operating procedure for decades. If every eligible voter votes they lose; plain and simple.

With 2018 coming into its last few weeks there have been two red states that are inevitably on track to turn blue that have been in the news: Georgia and to a lesser degree Texas.

In Georgia Republican Secretary of State and Gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp has been using his office’s power as chief elections officer of the state to stack the deck in his favor. To be fair he was using a similar tactic in prior elections. He would lose in court and then either tweak the edict or get the State Legislature to pass a law almost identical to the discredited edict. (A similar strategy is currently being employed by the Republicans in North Carolina. Their voter ID bill was declared unconstitutional so they have introduced it as a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot.)

I remember some 2012 conversations with people who had worked recent Georgia elections and they said the state was about ready to turn blue. All they needed was a bit more time, a few more resources and a lack of Republican interference. Georgia would turn blue; it was simply a matter of when.

In the recent past Kemp implemented a policy of exact match. That meant that the information entered into the Board of Elections’ computer system from a voter registration application had to be an exact match with existing records. If not the application was kicked out. In reality it conveniently remained in limbo come Election Day. Exact match includes things like a street address ending in “Dr.” or “Dr” or “Drive”. It also includes a hyphen in a surname. Additionally the placement of an accent mark in a first name.

I have lived on streets and drives in my adult lifetime. I have no idea how I’ve spelled out or abbreviated them on forms. I was certainly not attempting to deceive anyone.

Hyphens in last names most commonly occur in female names in America. American women tend to vote Democratic. You connect those dots.

Given names with accent marks are to a degree common in the African-American community. They are almost unheard of among whites. I have filled out hundreds if not thousands of voter registration application in my day. I’m not certain what the exact proper method of handling an accent mark is and I’m sure I am not alone in that. Black voters break Democratic by about a 9-1 margin. Am I the only one who can understand why a Republican candidate particularly in a southern state would desire a lower African-American voter turnout?

Add to this the human error factor of the persons doing the computer input.

Back in 1971 America adopted the 26th Amendment which gave 18, 19 and 20 year olds the right to vote. I am of the generation directly affected and voted in the 1972 election at the age of 20. That also meant that college student could vote using their school address. Prairie View A&M is located in Waller County Texas. Prairie View’s student body was and still is overwhelmingly black. Waller County was and still is overwhelmingly white. Waller County started refusing to register Prairie View students or making the process extremely difficult in 1971 and really hasn’t changed to today. In 1979 the Supreme Court ruled against Waller County in Symn v United States. That really hasn’t changed much.

In this election cycle the Waller County elections officials instructed Prairie View students who lived on campus to register using either one of two addresses. A few weeks back it turned out that the addresses were in two different precincts. One voted on campus the other off campus. Since most students that live on campus do not have vehicles that presented a hardship and barrier to voting.

A Democratic candidate decided to officially announce his displeasure with the situation. He sent his staffer to the Waller County Courthouse to hand deliver a letter of protest. In order to document the hand delivery the young man snapped a picture of the transaction on his personal cell phone. Before he could leave the premises he was detained by law enforcement. When asked what party the candidate he worked for represented he replied that the candidate was a Democrat. He was promptly arrested, questioned and his phone seized.  It appears that in large part thanks to publicity provided mainly by The Rachel Maddow Show the situation has been amicably resolved. I wonder what would have happened sans the national attention. No I don’t!

This is not the lone case of Republican fear of documentation of their transgressions. Last weekend United States Senator David Perdue campaigned for his fellow Georgia Republican Kemp on the campus of Georgia Tech. A student, with his personal cell phone in hand to record the interaction, asked Perdue why he was supporting someone who was actively suppressing the vote. Instead of answering the question, ignoring it or simply saying “No comment” Perdue stole the student’s phone, tried to hide it and finally returned it when he was followed. I hope footage of the interaction is preserved; it will make for a great commercial against Perdue when he seeks reelection in 2020. Come to think of it, 2020 is a presidential year and Democrats have a much better turnout history in presidential years than in mid-terms. In purple turning blue Georgia might that have been on Perdue’s mind?

All of the above is based on demonstrable fact. Allow me the following sentence for speculation. In addition to voter suppression could the Republicans be relying on foreign election interference to help them in 2018?

We know we are dealing with Republican voter suppression and theft; we just don’t know the total extent of either. Don’t count those chickens; get out and vote!

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