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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Does Georgia’s Election Mess Mean Trouble for Dems in November?

A sampling of headlines in reports about Georgia’s primary election: “Georgia election ‘catastrophe’ in largely minority areas sparks investigation: Long lines, lack of voting machines and shortages of primary ballots plagued voters. (from nbcnews.com); “Primary results: Highlights from a messy election night in Georgia and 4 other states” (from CNN Politics); Voters See Chaos At Georgia Primary Elections (npr.org).

Not a good look for the Georgia GOP. As you might expect the state’s Secretary of State’s office blames the problems on an unusually-large turnout, new voting machines and, somehow, Democrats, even though Republicans control the voting process. As Kevin Collier, Cyrus Farivar, Dareh Gregorian and Ben Popken report at NBC News:

Hourslong waits, problems with new voting machines and a lack of available ballots plagued voters in majority minority counties in Georgia on Tuesday — conditions the secretary of state called “unacceptable” and vowed to investigate.

Democrats and election watchers said voting issues in a state that has been plagued for years by similar problems, along with allegations of racial bias, didn’t bode well for the November presidential election, when Georgia could be in play.

“This seems to be happening throughout Atlanta and perhaps throughout the county. People have been in line since before 7:00 am this morning,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after polls were supposed to open — and in some cases still hadn’t.

Do not hold your breath, waiting for photos of long lines and confusion at predominantly-Republican polls in GA. Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights group, said “Three-quarters of voters who called with problems identified as African American.”

You may remember that Georgia was also an election problem child in 2018. As Collier, Farivar, Gregorian and Popken explain,

Voting problems also plagued Fulton County in 2018, which led to allegations of voter suppression by Democrats. The secretary of state at the time was Brian Kemp, a Republican, who wound up winning the governorship by a thin margin against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams at the time called the election “rotten and rigged.”

Georgia has added 700,000 voters to the registration rolls since 2018. Massive incompetence may be the kindest description of Georgia’s curent government. As Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, put it: “Whether it is incompetence or intentional voter suppression — the result is the same — Georgians denied their rights as citizens in this democracy.”

Since Georgia is not only a swing state in the presidential election, but also has two senate seats in play, Democrats can not be blamed for thinking the worst, and their party is challenged to respond with a robust legal, media and GOTV strategy.

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