Sunday, November 04, 2018

The Banana Republic of Georgia

This is a personal first: I just-now had an actual political canvasser knock on my front door, and told him (truthfully) that I'd already cast an early ballot. In fact, I voted a straight-Democratic ticket for the first time since ... I dunno, possibly ever? But for all the Democrats' many many many flaws, at least they're not the Openly White Supremacist Party, which the contemporary GOP is. I figure this is no time to cast any libertarian purity-protest votes, not with literal Nazi sympathizers infesting the Republican party. Face it: the libertarians have no chance of unseating any Republicans, whereas the Democrats just might.

Except here in Georgia. To be honest, I rather doubt my votes will even be counted, thanks to Georgia's utterly insane "all-electronic ballots with no paper trail" system, made worse by the fact that our Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and (amazing coincidence!) the guy responsible for kicking something like 20 percent of all registered voters off the rolls in the past few years -- by an amazing coincidence, the overwhelming majority of the disenfranchised have "non-white" names. Over 340,000 registered voters were kicked off the rolls not reporting a change of address -- because they didn't have to, because they never moved.

Kemp is also, by yet another amazing coincidence, the guy who recently tried closing seven out of nine voting precincts in a majority-black district, backing down only after getting unwanted national-media attention. And now, just in case such shenanigans are not sufficiently corrupt, Kemp has upped the ante two days before the election. As Richard L. Hasen reports in Slate (hyperlinks from the original text): 
In perhaps the most outrageous example of election administration partisanship in the modern era, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor while simultaneously in charge of the state’s elections, has accused the Democratic Party without evidence of hacking into the state’s voter database. He plastered a headline about it on the Secretary of State’s website, which thousands of voters use to get information about voting on election day. 

It’s just the latest in a series of partisan moves by Kemp, who has held up more than 50,000 voter registrations for inconsistencies as small as a missing hyphen, fought rules to give voters a chance to prove their identity when their absentee ballot applications are rejected for a lack of a signature match, and  been aggressive in prosecuting those who have done nothing more than try to help those in need of assistance in casting ballots. 

But the latest appalling move by Kemp to publicly accuse the Democrats of hacking without evidence is even worse than that: Kemp has been one of the few state election officials to refuse help from the federal Department of Homeland Security to deter foreign and domestic hacking of voter registration databases. After computer scientists demonstrated the insecurity of the state’s voting system, he was sued for having perhaps the most vulnerable election system in the country. His office has been plausibly accused of destroying evidence, which would have helped to prove the vulnerabilities of the state election system.... what Kemp has done now goes beyond the pale. He’s accused his opponents of election tampering without evidence on the eve of the election, and plastered the incendiary charge on an official state website in the days before his office will administer that election. This is some banana republic stuff.

He's not even pretending to care about lowercase-d democratic principles anymore. Personally, I suspect that if all registered, qualified voters who attempted to vote were allowed to do so, and if all votes were accurately and fairly counted, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams would win. At the same time, since Brian Kemp is the one overseeing the "fairness" of this election, I expect he'll be Georgia's next governor--not because he'll get the most votes, but because he intends to stuff the virtual ballot box. Or, as Richard Hasen put it: "Brian Kemp needs to step aside from running this election. If he doesn’t and he wins, lots of people will now believe the fix was in. Considering these latest actions, that belief will be justified."

I cannot recall ever feeling this pessimistic about the future of my country.


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