Voting Rights Fight in Georgia Grows More Intense

By Erin Ferns Lee October 24, 2016
Photo: Jimmy Emerson via Creative Commons
Photo: Jimmy Emerson via Creative Commons

The fight for voting rights in Georgia isn’t new; we have been working there for years.

The increasingly diverse battleground state is on close watch over its “growing conflict over voting rights and ballot access,” wrote Vanessa Williams at the Washington Post today. The issues are many, but there are a few that are gaining significant attention, as Williams writes:

  1. Thousands of voter applicants did not have their registrations processed due, in part, to the surge in registrations expected this time of year and the state’s “questionable procedures” to process those applications.
  2. Long lines are already an issue at early voting sites.
  3. Unlike Florida, Georgia has refused to extend the voter registration deadlines in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. (It is worth noting that Florida gained 100,000 new voter applicants, thanks to the deadline extensions.)

Project Vote has been working in Georgia since 2008 to help bring the state’s voting practices into the 21st century, as well as work toward a more representative electorate.

These rising issues and the state’s new battleground status are no surprise. As Williams notes, Georgia’s growing population of voters of color and young voters signals “a shift in electoral power away from white Republicans, who flocked to the GOP in response to civil rights gains of the 1960s.”

Project Vote has been working in Georgia since 2008 to help bring the state’s voting practices into the 21st century, as well as work toward a more representative electorate.

“We’ve supported voter registration drives in the state, brought lawsuits to enforce federal voting rights laws, and fought back against the implementation of discriminatory proof-of-citizenship requirements,” wrote Project Vote President Michael Slater last month. “We are committed to ensuring that Georgia election officials treat all members of its diverse citizenry equally.”

Most recently, Project Vote fought to ensure transparency of voter registration records under the National Voter Registration Act. The NVRA provides that the public the oversee voter registration process to “‘protect the integrity of the electoral process’ and ‘ensure that accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained.'”

Project Vote and partners also filed a lawsuit in September to stop the state from wrongfully disenfranchising thousands of voter applicants, most of whom are people of color. On October 5, the state agreed to allow some previously rejected applicants to vote in November.

“No American citizen should be denied their fundamental right to vote because of bureaucratic procedures,” said Project Vote election counsel, Michelle Kanter Cohen. “We look forward to working with the State to ensure every eligible Georgia voter gets to cast a ballot this November.”