Georgia held an election last week and it went exactly the way Gov. Brian Kemp wanted it to. If the same thing happens in November, yet another election might unfairly tilt the results.
Georgia’s primary was marked by hours-long lines, broken voting machines and faulty mail-in ballots. Though districts across the state were affected, urban Democratic-leaning Atlanta suffered the worst delays.
The pledge by Georgia’s secretary of state to investigate what went wrong sounds like the famous line in “Casablanca” when Capt. Louis Renault said, “Round up the usual suspects.” Georgia is ground zero for what is hiding in plain sight: voter suppression.
In 2018, Georgia, among other states, purged voter rolls of people who election officials claimed were ineligible to vote because they had moved or died. At least a quarter of them had done neither, but were nonetheless not allowed to vote.
Iowa also held an election recently. Ballots were mailed to every registered voter, returns amounted to a record turnout and results came in quickly. Iowa’s election officials were pretty proud of a smooth election in the midst of a pandemic.
Iowa Republicans were pretty upset. Three days later, their legislature moved to stop election officials from supporting voting by mail. Smooth elections are not their goal. Low turnout is.
President Donald Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, have begun to wage war on mail-in ballots despite the fact that both men and many of Trump’s family and advisors have voted by mail, sometimes for decades.
It is not an accident that Georgia’s election was a complete travesty. It is not a concern for election fraud that pushes Republican opposition to mail-in balloting. It should come as no surprise that a concerted effort is underway across the country to suppress turnout because research shows that low turnouts favor Republicans.
Since COVID-19 will not magically disappear by November, it behooves voters to put pressure on election officials now to ensure the availability of vote by mail and sufficient polling places.
Sufficient numbers of polling places must be open. Election officials must figure out how to staff polls if older volunteers cannot do so. Mail-in voting should be promoted and supported.
The results of any election are never as important as the assurance that all elections are fair. Nothing is more anti-American and corrupt than messing with the vote.
Even in these uncertain times, nothing is more important than making sure that every voter can cast a ballot and every vote cast is counted.