Georgia continues voter suppression tactics while denying they are taking place
Gwinnett County is facing multiple lawsuits stemming from its rejections of 595 absentee ballots, a large number of them by African American and Asian American voters. According to CNN’s analysis of state data, Gwinnett County only makes up around 6% of the absentee ballots in Georgia, but one third of those rejected by the state, and roughly half of them are from Black and Asian voters.
Voting officials tossed out the ballots due to alleged infractions ranging from missing birth dates, address discrepancies, signatures that don’t match official records and additional issues.
The Coalition for Good Governance brought forth a lawsuit on behalf of a group of Georgia voters demanding that those whose ballots are being denied be given time and opportunity to address the discrepancies so that they aren’t barred from voting in the upcoming midterm elections. Also filing a suit is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which alleges that the county’s rejections are a “constitutional train wreck.”
In a statement, Gwinnett County claims that it is “committed to a process that protects the voting rights of all of its citizens and fully complies with the law in the process.” However, voters such as Lileth Waters and Carol Hutcheson told CNN they found the county’s rejection of their votes confusing. Hutcheson claims she has not received any notification from the county, despite mailing her ballot in over a week ago, and told CNN, “I swear I thought I put the right information on there. Right now, I’m fuming,”
Gwinnett County Spokesperson Joe Sorenson did not answer any of CNN’s specific questions regarding the rejections, citing the ongoing litigation of the county by the ACLU and others, but he did tell CNN, “The handling of absentee ballot applications and the acceptance and rejection of ballots by Gwinnett County (have) complied with the law and will continue to do so.”
Kirsten Clarke, president of Washington D.C. based advocacy group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also filed a lawsuit with the Campaign Legal Center challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s “exact match” law. Similar to other state laws across the South, it mandates that voters’ registration applications match information on their state-issued ID or Social Security card.
The Associated Press reports that 53,000 people, mostly Black, had their registrations placed in limbo because of a mismatch. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is the Republican nominee running against Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia, has gone on record calling the reports of voter suppression a politically driven rallying point for Democrats. He told CNN, “Despite any claim to the contrary, it has never been easier to register to vote in Georgia and actively engage in the electoral process.”
Kent’s office issued this statement in response to the legal proceedings against the State and the county: “We will not be bullied by out-of-state organizations or political operatives who want to generate headlines and advance a baseless narrative. We will do our part to keep elections secure, accessible, and fair in Georgia.”