Protesters filled the meeting room of the Spalding County Board of Elections in October, upset that the board had disallowed early voting on Sundays for the Nov. 2 municipal election. A year ago, Sunday voting had been instrumental in boosting turnout of Black voters.
But this was an entirely different five-member board than had overseen the last election. The Democratic majority of three Black women was gone. So was the Black elections supervisor.
Now a faction of three white Republicans controlled the board – thanks to a bill passed by the Republican-led Georgia legislature earlier this year. The Spalding board’s new chairman has endorsed former president Donald Trump’s false stolen-election claims on social media.
The panel in Spalding, a rural patch south of Atlanta, is one of six county boards that Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation. The changes expanded the party’s power over choosing members of local election boards ahead of the crucial midterm Congressional elections in November 2022.
Just like municipal office gains made over the past two years by the Georgia Democratic Party, this isn’t news that’s being talked about. Chalk this one up to Georgia SB 202, which I simply call the GOP Election Theft Law.
In November 2020 and January 2021, Georgia voters showed up to the polls and showed out. The voters showed what democracy looks like in action. Whenever you disagree with the direction of the government, you can use the power of the ballot to change course. And we did just that.
Since the highly reported federal elections, Georgians have continued to use their power of the ballot to change government on local levels all across the state gaining more than 30 municipal election wins this fall.
Now, we’re heading into what will undoubtedly be a highly charged and nasty gubernatorial election to decide the direction of the state. While there are several who have announced their canadacy, there are three primary candidates to watch at this point Gov. Mumbles, Stacey Abrams, and David Perdue.
What’s not being reported is the behind-the-scenes machinations being perpetrated by the Georgia GOP. I think these smaller board takeovers are test cases to see how they will be received. Spalding County is right next door to me, and I am waiting for the GOP to expand their quest for control to other metro counties. That is a part of their only pathway to victory.
I’ll say this now and stand behind it 100%. Georgia is a purple state, and it has been one for a long time. When I first moved here, Georgia had a Democratic governor and the Dems held all statewide offices IIRC. In the time since, there has not been a significant influx of conservative voters nor have there been lot of people switching parties.
So why does the GOP have Georgia by the balls then? Voter suppression and gerrymandering. When the GOP took control, they gerrymandered themselves into big majorities in the GA Assembly. They used those majorities to pass Voter ID and other election laws which had a negative impact on the Democratic Voter base.
Election results in 2016 and 2018 showed the GA GOP that their grip on Georgia was slipping and slipping very quickly. If you remember, Hillary Clinton turned the metro Atlanta area blue flipping some reliably GOP counties in the process. In 2018, Stacey Abrams added to what Clinton accomplished.
When we got to 2020, the table was set to flip the state, and it all depended on turnout. We all saw what happened, and the GOP was caught off guard for the turnout. This is why the GA Assembly passed SB 202 and Mumbles signed it into law.
I don’t think the GA GOP is stupid enough to go full throttle election theft. They will, however, attempt to suppress enough votes statewide to give themselves a good shot to remain in control. Things, once again, will rely on turnout. The GOP knows this, and that’s why you’ll see more suppression efforts as we get closer to election time.
I’m looking at volunteering as a poll (not pole 😁) worker this year. I haven’t made up my mind because I will likely have to clear things with my employer first. I am a firm believer in the power of the ballot, and I will protect the right to vote for everyone, including those whom I disagree with politically. You’ll probably see more about electioneering over the year, so bear with me as I rant along.
As always, I’d love to hear your comments on the actions of the GOP and Dems, the news coverage or lack thereof, as well as any ideas, solutions, or problems that you see.