Don’t play games with our voting rights

Defending voting rights in the state of Georgia is like playing a game of whack-a-mole. When you defeat one threat to voting rights, another one inevitably pops up in its place. Recent actions by state and local lawmakers, including a bill on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk (House Bill 268), show how these attacks on eligible voters just keep on coming.


Ever since the 15th Amendment banned outright disenfranchisement on the basis of race, state and local governments in the South have devised ever more creative ways to marginalize low-income and minority communities by making it harder for them to vote. In the first half of the 20th century, this was accomplished through violence, fraud, poll taxes and white primaries. Since then, these blunt tactics have given way to new and more insidious methods – such as government-issued photo ID laws, gerrymandering and overly restrictive registration requirements.

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Last year, a coalition of civil rights groups went to court to challenge Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration system, which has stripped thousands of Georgians of their fundamental right to vote because of minor discrepancies and typos in state databases. In February, the state agreed to a settlement promising to reform “exact match,” but during the legislative session this practice appeared to resurface with H.B. 268, which opens the door for this same unacceptable scheme to be imposed in the future. No eligible voter should be denied access to the polls because of a typo in a state database. Gov. Deal should protect voting rights, uphold the spirit of the legal settlement, and veto H.B. 268.

The “exact match” bill on Gov. Deal’s desk is just one example of how the threats to voting rights in Georgia keep popping up.

In the special election for the Sixth Congressional District, the state tried to cut off the registration deadline for the runoff a full two months earlier than required by the National Voter Registration Act – a move the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights successfully challenged in court.

In Irwin County, the ACLU of Georgia is urging the Board of Elections and Registration to abandon a proposal to remove the only polling place remaining in the African-American majority community of Ocilla – while leaving polling places in two predominantly white areas open.


In Sumter County, the ACLU is challenging proposed changes that would dilute black voting power in school board elections. The changes are expected to lead to a 5-2 majority of white-preferred candidates – even though 48 percent of the voting age population in the county is black. We’re also investigating another local board of education in middle Georgia for using similar methods to diminish the voting strength of African-American voters in that community.

And throughout the state, minority communities continue to be threatened by partisan gerrymandering schemes that weaken their voting power. This year Georgia legislators proposed a bill (House Bill 515) that would have removed minority voters from several legislative districts and skewed the map in favor of white, incumbent politicians. Legislators backed off after testimony from the ACLU of Georgia and others, but it’s clear that a nonpartisan redistricting commission is needed to prevent this kind of map rigging in the future.

The methods for marginalizing the power of African-American communities may have changed over time, but the outcome is the same – making it harder for people of color to cast a ballot. This is wrong. Instead of playing games with our fundamental voting rights, state and local lawmakers should work to ensure elections are free, fair and equally accessible to all.


The writer is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

Dee STAFFORD 24 days ago
It's fitting this appears today when the Kentucky Derby is being run.  There at Churchill Downs there will be many piles of horse manure and this column is Augusta's morning pile.

What is racist is groups like the ACLU who act with the bigotry of thinking and acting like blacks are some group of sub-humans who are incapable of following instructions and laws of the voting process.

If I were a black, I'd be highly insulted to have groups  think I was to lazy or mentally incompetent to be able to follow instructions and requires such as having a photo ID just like white people have to do.

I saw some interview of liberals on a northern college campus being asked about requiring blacks to have photo ID's like others.  The people were saying that the blacks did not have the means necessary to get ID's because they lived in areas to far from places that provide pictures, they didn't have access to internet and other modern conveniences.  THAT is bigotry. 

As far as gerrymandering goes, if it were not for gerrymandering many blacks and Hispanics in congress would not be there. It the writer would look at congressional districts on a map he would readily see that.

One thing I will agree on is the number of polling places available to every body.  I see these polling places with long lines some stretching around the block. These had people of all races in the lines.  I don't see what that type of situation exists.  

We are so fortunate to have such quality people in the CSRA running our polls so that there are enough that long lines are non-existent.
William O. Darby 23 days ago
"If I were a black, I'd be highly insulted to have groups  think I was to lazy or mentally incompetent to be able to follow instructions and requires such as having a photo ID just like white people have to do"
Lee, I don't really know what I'd do or think if I were Black and there's no way to find out.

Still, I'd like to think I'd be smarter than the average Democrat-Socialist voter/lemming/parasite we see out there in each and every election.
Roland SASSER 24 days ago

"such as government-issued photo ID laws", never understood why showing an ID is such a hindrance. I have to show an ID to cash a check, board a plane, use a credit card etc. Because of rampant fraud, the James Brown Turkey Giveaway now requires an ID.

Out of curiosity, I read HB 268 and I could not find the term "Exact Match" or this applies to "low-income and minority communities" only. These rules apply to everyone rich, poor, black or white. Sorry Andrea, if my work assignment isn't an "Exact Match" to what is required, I get the opportunity to do it over until it's correct. If my tax return isn't an "Exact Match", I'll hear from the IRS. I could go on and on.

The common theme among blacks is that they want to be treated just like white people and they should be period. My problem is they want to be treated equally until it becomes inconvenient for them and then the rules don't apply. HB 268 appears to cover the entire voting process which includes showing ID. Question: Doesn't an individual white or black have to show an ID of some sort to apply and receive welfare? So how does proving who you are disenfranchising anybody?

Jim Hall 24 days ago
Black people are still being "told" what to think and when.   The slave owners have changed, not the plantation system.  Sadly, for some reason the majority do not realize they belong to the federal government.
Jim Hall 24 days ago
They were TOLD back in the day that they wanted to be treated as equals without a color denotation.   Then they were TOLD that they should REGARDED as black people of color.  Then they were TOLD that being called black was racist.  Then they were TOLD they were a special historical culture deserving of special treatment and unequal treatment.

Marx's use of the uneducated masses is very apparent, to some who choose to be free.
William O. Darby 23 days ago
"....never understood why showing an ID is such a hindrance."
Oh, Roland.... believe me, it's not any kind of "hindrance"  What it is, is a perpetual wedge issue, one of many that the Democrat-Socialists use effectively in election after election to divide the populace and get their mindless base to the polls. 
Jerry Whitcomb 24 days ago

" but it’s clear that a nonpartisan redistricting commission is needed to prevent this kind of map rigging in the future."

Yeh.........the white property owning taxPAYERS in Richmond County know all about the need for redistricting.

ROY WHITLEY 24 days ago
First red flag: the aclu is an avowed communist group of corrupt lowyers who were organized to use their corruption to further union labor enforcement and the naacp's agenda. Red flag #2) see red flag #1.
Jim Hall 24 days ago
Roy, some think the ACLU is God sent.   Nothing could be farther from the truth.   It is always in the name with so called help for the masses.  American Civil Liberties Union.  Unamerican. Uncivil.  Not about personal liberty, but collective.  Union only as it refers to communist cells.

We should always be in fear of those want to champion our rights.

We are all equal, some are just more equal.
Jim Hall 24 days ago
Its not the photo ID's.  It is a permanent residence/mailing address for longer than a month.  We have a transient culture that does not want a fixed location.   The WHY has many answers.  Ask any postal worker.

Logic says transients pose a near impossible situation to identify.   The ACLU and other Marxist know this too well.   Just another nail in the coffin of Constitutional America.

You have the right to vote.   But we don't have the right to identify you as a specific individual with that right.  Or when you use it and where.

You can be arrested for lying to the police about your real name and address.

Lunacy.   Chaos.  Anarchy.   

William O. Darby 23 days ago
Why is it that when rules or laws are written that apply to EVERYONE, for some reason, the lefty-loonies ALWAYS see some sort of threat, real or implied against their minions?

Makes you wonder if a lower level of intelligence is a required asset in order to vote for or support socialist  priorities.
William O. Darby 23 days ago
While we're on the subject of Lefty-Loony wedge issue, have you seen THIS headline?

"A historically black college plans to award Trayvon Martin a posthumous degree later in May, the school announced Wednesday. Florida Memorial University will present a bachelor’s of aeronautical science May 13 to Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin."
The thug-punk, who ambushed and viciously assaulted an Hispanic man (and was killed for his efforts) is STILL a rising star on the American political left.

He's getting a degree in aeronautical science because his mom says he always loved airplanes.

Why not? They turned an Oval Office sex pervert into an elder statesman (And helped make him and his wife into multi-millionaires) so I guess just about anything goes, right?

Gotta love the lefties.


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