After shady elections process, a new comprehensive lawsuit seeks to change the Georgia’s elections system
According to Vox, less than a week after Stacey Abrams announced that she was ceasing her campaign against Brian Kemp for governor of Georgia, a lawsuit is being brought against the Georgia elections board and the interim Secretary of State Robyn Crittendon by Fair Fight Action and Care in Action, two groups that fight on behalf of voting rights and domestic workers rights respectively. Lauren Grogh-Wargo, Abrams’ former campaign manager and the CEO of Fair Fight told Vox, “The general election for governor is over, but the citizens and voters of Georgia deserve an election system that they can have confidence in.”
Abrams is not named in the lawsuit, but she is a member of Fair Fight’s board, and the 66-page suit brings attention to voting problems that changed how the recent governor’s election played out. Those problems include voter purges, holds on registration applications, Election Day problems at predominantly non-white polling places, and issues with absentee and provisional ballots.
These issues also spawned lawsuits during the election, some of which were successful. But by collecting them in a larger lawsuit, Fair Fight and Care in Action hope to make it plain that Georgia’s election system has created a series of unconstitutional hurdles to civic engagement, namely the civic engagement of the Black and Brown citizens of Georgia.
The lawsuit proposes reforms like ending the use of electronic voting machines without paper trails and stopping the purging of infrequent voters from voting rolls. It asks that these changes be implemented before the 2020 election, and that a federal judge be required to approve statewide changes to voting measures in order to ensure that they do not adversely affect Black and Brown voters in the state.
The lawsuit reads: “Fair elections ensure the consent of the governed; they are the moral foundation of the compact between the government and its citizens… In the 2018 General Election, Georgia’s elections officials broke that compact.” It cites stories from Georgians about how difficult voting has been for them, include an account from the chair of the Department of Global Health Studies at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Carlos del Rio. Del Rio mentions that he was barred from voting because an error in the state database caused his name to be rendered as “delRio,” which meant that poll workers could not verify him as a voter. Del Rio then had to endure a “lengthy process” in order to cast his ballot in the election.
As UC Irvine law professor Richard Hasen noted in an article discussing the lawsuit for Slate, “it is smart to make an argument that the system cumulatively disenfranchises voters. Rather than focusing on one of the hurdles facing voters, this suit lays out all of the hurdles together. Voting should not be an obstacle course, but the lawsuit claims that’s exactly what Georgia has created through a combination of misfeasance and malfeasance.”