In the Georgia Governor’s Race, the Game Is Black Votes

The Atlantic

In the 2018 midterm elections in Georgia, the math is simple. If turnout among black voters is low—somewhere near 2014’s midterm mark of 41 percent—the Republican gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp will probably win. If black turnout is high, and registrations among eligible black voters are solid, the Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams will probably win. All of the traditional campaign goals in a southern state, such as fundraising, figuring out how to build multiracial and cross-class coalitions, and identifying the policies that resonate with a broad range of voters, still matter. But when it really comes down to it, the game is black votes.

Tuesday, on the deadline for registering for the upcoming election, the Associated Press reported that over 53,000 voter applications are currently on hold in Kemp’s office. The source of those holds is a policy instituted by the Georgia state legislature called “exact match,” a verification process that requires voter information to be identical to information kept on file either at state drivers’-license offices or the Social Security Administration. Typos, clerical errors, or missing accents or punctuation in names all became grounds for elections officials to challenge voter-registration applications. Challenged applicants have 26 months to remedy their situation by showing a government-issued photo identification to elections officials, but many of those whose applications have been placed on hold say they were never informed about the holdup, and many could see—or could have seen—deadlines come and go, and could be deleted from the voter system altogether without knowing.

According to Danielle Lang, a legal counsel for the nonprofit voting-rights organization Campaign Legal Center, the thousands of people whose registrations are languishing can still vote in person in November, since producing the state-issued government identification that qualifies for Georgia’s strict voter-ID law also counts for clarifying the discrepancy. But other voters might not be so lucky. 

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