April V. Taylor
In what is appearing to be an attempt to suppress the voices of mostly Black and Hispanic voters in Georgia, some 40,000 voter registration applications have mysteriously vanished since being turned in to state and local officials earlier this year. Every vote counts, but this election is particularly pressing because the Georgia governor and U.S. Senate races are neck and neck. In a moves that are causing many to question what is really going on, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state Brian Kemp is claiming that every voter-registration application that was submitted by Georgians before the registration deadline was processed.
Adding insult to injury, a county judge ruled on Tuesday against a request by the Lawyers’ Committtee for Civil Rights, the NAACP, and the New Georgia Project to acknowledge the missing voter registrations and intervene. Julie Houk, senior counsel for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers; Committee for Civil Rights addressed the ruling stating, “This decision guarantees that there are going to be significant numbers of people who will be disenfranchised and not be put into the voter-registration rolls even though they are eligible to vote.”
The voters affected by the missing applications were registered during a voter registration drive spearheaded by The New Georgia Project. Andrea Aldridge, who is an organizer who helped to register voters says that many of the new voters are, “discouraged, upset, kind of frazzled, not really knowing what was going on. What can you even say to people who want to vote but possibly can’t?” In what seems to be an event from Jim Crow and not the purported post-racial era of Obama, Dr. Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP, points out that, “All in all – a republican appointed judge has backed the republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African American and Latino population.”
The most heated races for governor and U.S. Senate are too close to call, and there is a lot at stake, not just in terms of the Georgia governor’s mansion but also what party retains control of Congress’ upper chamber. While 40,000 votes may seem like a small percentage of millions of votes set to be cast on election day in Georgia, it is important to point out that in 2008, a runoff was forced in a race that saw Senator Saxby Chambliss finish with 49.8 percent of the vote, leaving him 8,000 votes short of the 50 percent mark required for an outright win under Georgia law.