An upcoming Georgia election offers hope for undoing Republican voter suppression
After the long and contentious gubernatorial race in Georgia, we know two things to be true: 1.) sadly, Brian Kemp will be Georgia’s next governor and 2). the fight against voter suppression and gerrymandering in the state is far from over. After almost a decade of work to disenfranchise millions of voters, Kemp stepped down from his role as secretary of state after claiming victory over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. His “win” (aka stolen election) is a result of the many efforts he put in place to suppress votes. On Tuesday, Georgia voters go back to the polls to select Kemp’s replacement. Though nothing will fix what has already been done, voters now have an opportunity to at least mitigate some of the damage.
Democrat John Barrow is the best person for the secretary of state job. After all, he knows all too well how gerrymandering can impact voters and congressional districts. As reported by Mother Jones, after being elected to the House, Barrow was drawn out of two different districts by Georgia Republicans in order to make it easier for the GOP to secure votes. In his own words, Barrow says that he is “the most gerrymandered member of Congress in history.” And his personal experience is exactly why he’s running for office. His Republican opponent is state Rep. Brad Raffensperger. Because neither Barrow nor Raffensperger won the majority of the vote on Election Day, they head to a runoff election on Tuesday.
Recently, Barrow reminded Georgians why this election matters so much:
“For many years, most folks haven’t put much thought into the office of Secretary of State,” Barrow wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the election’s first round. “But on November 6th, all of us received a civics lesson on the importance of this office.”
As we saw in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, the secretary of state has the power to rig elections by controlling access to the ballot. Ideally, the person in that role should want as many people as possible to vote in elections that are fair and democratic. But that’s not what’s happening here. The contrast between Barrow and Raffensperger couldn’t be more stark. Barrow wants to reverse Kemp’s restrictive policies and plans to make it easier for Georgians to vote by implementing automatic voter registration and replacing electronic voting machines, which are vulnerable to hacking and prone to malfunction, with paper ballots.
On the other hand, Raffensperger supports Kemp’s work and has called him “a man of high integrity.” He’s another conspiracist who believes that we need to crack down on “illegal voting” (which has been a right-wing talking point for years without any basis in fact or proof) and he’s been endorsed by Donald Trump, who we can be assured does not know what a secretary of state actually does.