Georgia can’t seem to stay out of one problem before landing in another, and this voting cycle is no different. From voting machines with no power cords to the “Exact Match” law and the cries for suppression that have gone out far and wide, you would think that would be enough, but the problems didn’t start November 6, 2018. In fact, it started when the first voting machines hit the precincts in September of 2018. In this article, we will start with the controversy behind the electronic voting machines, move on to the “Exact Match” voter law, and end with the problems reported during election day in Georgia. This is a long one. So, strap yourself in and get ready for an article that will have you yelling at Georgia and its incompetency.
The Electronic Voting Machines
Back in September 12, 2018, a federal judge requested the 27,000 electronic voting machines be replaced with paper ballots. There are two reasons for this:
1. The machines leave no paper trail for verification.
2. There is no way to guarantee against tampering/hacking.
With the request being so close to early voting being opened, Secretary Kemp turned down the request and moved forward with the voting machines. Georgia is one of 14 states with the electronic voting machines and five states who’s machines leave no paper trail. Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and cybersecurity experts say the machines are vulnerable to hacking in order to manipulate votes. With 5.4 million registered voters, pulling the 27,000 machines would have made an even bigger mess with it being so close to the election cycle.
This was a law put in place by Secretary Kemp in 2017, but it comes from a settlement from a 2016 lawsuit in regards to a similar issue. As of October 23, 2018, 75,000 registrations were pending under the law, but what is “Exact Match”?
In the simplest terms possible, the “Exact Match” law states that the application to register to vote must exactly match the information on a state driver’s license, state ID card, or Social Security records. Registrations can be pending for as little as a missing hyphen. Other reasons for a pending registration include differences in married and maiden names or misspellings. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a person who’s registration is pending can still vote. The registration problems can be rectified in person, and Georgia accepts a state driver’s license, state or federal ID card, a valid government employee from a government agency, a U.S. Passport, a U.S. Military ID, or a tribal photo ID. So, there are many ways one can prove their identification.
There are provisional ballots that can be cast if the registration issue cannot be resolved; however, those are paper ballots which are not counted until the information can be confirmed after the election, which can postpone a final result by days, weeks, and in some cases even months.
Through this law and calling it voter roll maintenance, Kemp’s office cancelled over 1.4 million registrations since 2012, with close to 670,000 registrations being cancelled in 2017. The following snippet is from an AP article.
Who would this affect?
This is a question that has been going around. In a GPB article, the pending voters as of September 17 would be:
.5% American Indian
4.3% Asian or Pacific Islander
69.5% Black, not Hispanic
9.6% White, non-Hispanic
Registrations were put in from 2014-2018 with 72.9% registering before the November 2016 election cycle.
The county that the pending registrations would impact with most would be from Fulton County at 38%.
One of main complaints was wait times, but when you go to vote on voting day, you run the risk of long lines and waiting for a long period in those lines before you get to vote. Some people reported having to wait for up to four-and-a-half hours in some locations. In Fulton County, more machines had to sent to locations to alleviate wait times and speed up the process, but not until multiple complaints were filed and Rev. Jesse Jackson appeared on the scene to keep up moral.
Then there was this issue in Gwinnet County:
“Election Day started an hour ago in my neighborhood. And we don’t have cords to plug in the voting machines. We all knew that voting was today. And only in my neighborhood are people waiting an hour after the polls open to vote. And they’re saying that we don’t have power cords. Opportunistic. Everyone in the world knew we were going to vote today. And in my neighborhood, there are no power cords. The building is full of power cords. No power cords.” –Anonymous Videographer.
The site has opened at 7 AM, but on one was allowed to vote until two hours later, when a news crew appeared on the scene. When confronted about how this issue could have happened, Gwinnett County election officials declined to comment. However, in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a spokesperson only confirmed the cords were not packed for the ExpressPoll machines. The machines went on to run on battery power, which ran out. This caused the location to close mere hours after it had opened for voting in the district.
This is the demographic makeup for Gwinnett County, GA.
The total population of the county is 920,260 residents.
My Two Cents
Here comes the part where I put in my opinion.
Lines can be hellish, especially on voting days when there are not any technical issues, but that should not deter you from voting.
That being said, the blatant incompetence of the packers to leave out the cords may never be clarified, as they are not saying much to defend themselves on that debacle. This can be construed as voter suppression, but when you look at the demographics of the county in which it happened, the cries of racism are not really backed-up. Fulton County fixed its issues with more machines, but I would be more comfortable with paper ballots.
Kemp should have stepped down from being Secretary of State as running for Governor created a huge conflict of interest that cannot be ignored. He should have not been able to run unless he stepped down.
Georgia has always had its problems. It constantly rates as one of the lowest states when it comes to its voting system and the issues that always crop up. This mess should have never happened. This is no excuse for this.
Until next time,
Anissa “Maddy” Walker
Sources for post:
Not used but included here. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/midterms-2018/midterm-elections-results-georgia-stacey-abrams-brian-kemp-voter-suppression-governor-a8621526.html