Tuesday, September 23, 2014

People Push Back Against Voter Suppression In Georgia

On September 9th, the public saw two disturbing attempts to silence our voices and thwart efforts to register and engage voters in Georgia. Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State, issued a broad and vague subpoena to the New Georgia Project. The New Georgia Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on registering Georgians to vote, particularly the estimated 800,000 eligible African American, Latino, and Asian American citizens of Georgia. Brian Kemp also expressed extreme disdain for Sunday voting.

 Last week he Secretary of State’s office has now called for an emergency hearing for Wednesday, September 17th. The State Board of Elections will met with almost no public notice but that didn’t stop us from packing the room and exposing what was really happening; voter suppression.

 These actions, we fear, seem designed as steps to block communities of color from the polls, and successful voter registration activities by all types of organizations. However, the Secretary of State has not responded to a letter sent by multiple organizations or request to meet. Instead, he schedules a last minute hearing to get authority for subpoenas he has already issued.

American Friends Service Committee worked through Moral Monday Georgia to help organize a large press conference before the hearing at the Capitol. After the press conference over 50k completed voter registration forms were delivered to Brian Kemps office and we refused to leave until he met with us. At the hearing we packed the room. As the hearing began several Moral Monday Georgia participants stood up, put stickers that read, “Vote” over their mouths, and turned their backs on the hearing. Surprisingly no one was asked to leave.

 We demand that the Secretary of State get back his job of making sure verified voter registration applicants make it on the rolls successfully by the start of early voting on October 13th.

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