The Georgia Witch Hunt Against the Department of Justice and Voting Rights Groups

The U.S. Justice Division has set its sights on Georgia’s new voter restrictions, submitting a lawsuit in June difficult various the state’s current adjustments. And Georgia’s prime elections official will not be taking the problem kindly.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s now-infamous secretary of state, is on a quest to seek out proof that federal authorities attorneys colluded with voter advocacy teams—whether or not that proof exists or not.

Raffensperger is utilizing the Freedom of Info Act, a sunshine legislation generally utilized by journalists to acquire authorities paperwork and expose in any other case secret exercise, to hunt communications between the DOJ and voting rights teams.

The Republican secretary of state instructed The Day by day Beast on Wednesday that he needs to know if the DOJ is “bowing to stress” from “liberal activist organizations” that had beforehand come out in opposition to the legislation, together with the anti-discrimination Southern Poverty Law Center, Latino Community Fund Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the incapacity advocacy group ADAPT, the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, and a number of other Black church buildings and clergy teams.

“We wish to discover out precisely: Are they listening to those outdoors organizations? Are they taking their orders from excessive command—which is definitely Stacey Abrams and these liberal activist organizations,” he mentioned. “Or are there precise liberal activists within the Division of Justice spinning these lawsuits out of entire fabric?”

These teams sued to dam the state’s controversial SB 202 law in Might, and the DOJ adopted swimsuit the very subsequent month with a petition that claims the legislation “was enacted with the aim of denying or abridging the suitable of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or coloration.”

Raffensperger finds the united entrance in opposition to the legislation suspicious. His FOIA request letter, dated Aug. 31, calls for “all communications” between the DOJ and 62 completely different nonprofits, attorneys, and activists. The final particular person named on that record is the particular person largely thought of Raffensperger’s native archenemy: Abrams, a Democratic politician there who turned her failed run for governor right into a voter registration blitzkrieg that defied odds and turned the red state blue.

In an interview with The Day by day Beast, Raffensperger declined to say what he’d take into account a smoking gun to show his collusion prices, however he mentioned that when all the knowledge comes out, “you then’ll have an open and clear alternative for the American public to see who’s operating the DOJ and the place that is all coming from.”

“He is aware of there are not any witches. We’ve not been to the DOJ. We haven’t any correspondence with the DOJ.”

— Marilyn R. Marks, govt director at Coalition for Good Governance

Whereas Raffensperger’s FOIA requests could appear focused at undermining the DOJ’s authorized case, in addition they might need a political motivation. Raffensperger grew to become a goal for conservatives and then-President Donald Trump through the former president’s efforts to overturn the election, and already, the Republican secretary of state is drawing some acquainted criticism from liberal voting rights teams.

“The record of organizations he’s concentrating on are stuffed with Black and brown civil rights organizations, an Indigenous tribe, and Black church buildings. Accusations like these spikes loss of life threats, and Brad is aware of this,” tweeted Hillary Holley, the organizing director for Truthful Battle Motion, the voter registration group Abrams began.

“He is aware of there are not any witches,” mentioned Marilyn R. Marks, the manager director at Coalition for Good Governance, one of many nonprofits talked about within the FOIA. “We haven’t been to the DOJ. We don’t have any correspondence with the DOJ.”

Marks’ group is presently concerned in two separate lawsuits in opposition to Raffensperger and his company. One seeks to switch the state’s present voting machines, which its employed cybersecurity experts have warned are insecure and vulnerable to hackers, and the opposite petition is an try and cease SB 202, which Marks mentioned unfairly restricts Georgians from publicly exposing issues with native elections.

“If we see election fraud or massive errors or violations of legislation, Secretary Raffensperger’s SB 202 makes it a criminal offense for us to report violations of legislation enforcement,” she mentioned, warning that the legislation as written would additionally forestall journalists observing elections from publicly reporting any mishandling of ballots that they witness.

Raffensperger instructed The Day by day Beast he isn’t positive what inner DOJ communications will reveal, however he hopes to higher perceive why Georgia is “being frequently focused” by the federal company for legal guidelines that exist already in different states. For instance, Minnesota requests identification to obtain an absentee poll, and New York prohibits handing out meals and drinks to voters in line. Each measures had been put in place with Georgia’s new legislation.

“The Division of Justice has taken the place that it’s OK for some states to do what they’re doing, however in Georgia you’ll be able to’t do this. That’ s a patently ridiculous place,” he mentioned. “Why are we held to a special customary?”

The Southern Christian Management Convention, which was co-founded by civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., can also be among the many organizations listed by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Workplace. SCLC President Charles Steele Jr. instructed The Day by day Beast that he has not been in communication with the Justice Division, however he mentioned he helps its battle in opposition to what he referred to as a “racist legislation in opposition to those that’ve been disenfranchised for a few years.”

Essentially the most plain instance, he mentioned, is how the legislation reduces the variety of absentee poll drop bins that had been positioned on authorities property below video surveillance—one thing that was initially a brief measure of extra entry supplied to cut back voter publicity to coronavirus.

“Individuals actually like the supply of that. The drop-off bins actually give individuals who’ve been disenfranchised an excellent feeling that they don’t should be judged or overly intimidated by going to a court-type surroundings to vote. I can simply drive up as an American and drop it off in my poll field in my district,” he mentioned. “They’re making an attempt to disenfranchise folks… they’re making an attempt to make it tough.”

Steele mentioned the present combat in opposition to state elections officers is merely the newest part within the long-running battle over voting rights—one which was worsened when the Supreme Court docket gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. That’s when it allowed states with a historical past of discrimination in opposition to Blacks to vary voter legal guidelines with out first getting federal authorities approval.

“The state authorities has at all times been our enemy, and the federal authorities has at all times been our good friend. Racism, segregation, Jim Crow. It’s at all times been the state authorities that fought us,” he mentioned.

Raffensperger rejects any notion that the brand new legislation is “Jim Crow 2.0,” as Abrams has labeled it. And he in contrast her ongoing marketing campaign in opposition to his insurance policies to the incessant barrage of conspiracy theories spewed by Trump through the state’s presidential election recount final yr.

“We’ve been combating Stacey Abrams since 2018 and her voter suppression narrative. In 2020, we had been combating the narrative of voter fraud. In Georgia, it’s by no means been simpler to register. It’s by no means been simpler to vote.” way of=rss | The Georgia Witch Hunt In opposition to the Division of Justice and Voting Rights Teams


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