Chaos in Georgia, Part I

5 mins read

I spent 15 hours on Tuesday in the Fulton County (Atlanta) Voter Protection “boiler room,” which is basically a group of lawyers handling problems coming from polling places.

The Associated Press called it “chaos in Georgia.” It was beyond insane. Some people were in line for 8 hours. Here’s the short version from the viewpoint of the Boiler Room: 😡😱😡.

I am helping the Georgia Voter Protection Organization prepare a report. To make sure I spread only accurate information, I’ll wait until we have that researched and written before I make any specific statements. 

But I can speak generally. When officials are invested in preventing large turnout and dangerously incompetent, it can be hard to tell where incompetence ends and malfeasance begins. 

Think of voter suppression as the last gasp of a minority trying to hold on to power. Once suppressed voters start voting, the minority loses power, and will lose power forever—unless they reposition themselves to attract a majority.

The Trump-FOX-GOP knows they can’t attract a majority of voters and include the KKK and white supremacists in their base. In other words, end voter suppression and the current Fox-Trump-GOP will crash and burn.

So the problem isn’t trivial. 

It also isn’t easy because the white supremacists are terrified of losing power. Tucker Carlson said, “This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives. Remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.” (This is a great example of what I’ve called hierarchical thinking. See more here)

I can’t overemphasize the importance of volunteer work and citizen involvement. Most election work is done by volunteers. (All my election work is volunteer.) Many election day problems are caused by hastily recruited, poorly trained, or problematic poll workers.

So please get involved. I have information on my to-do list to get you started.

You all know I’m a fan of absentee/vote by mail. It solves problems with voting machines by bypassing them altogether

The problem is that vote by mail requires government officials to actually mail people their ballots. This should not be hard. It is not rocket science. But apparently the task of getting the correct ballots into the envelopes, making sure the addresses are correct, and depositing the envelopes into the mail it is beyond the ability of certain elected officials. 

One goal for November should be requiring states like GA to mail out the ballots by a particular date.

If that doesn’t happen, it may be safer to vote early, if your state allows it, even though voting early means using the machines. (Georgia machines do have a paper trail.)

Georgia has early voting. During the early weeks, lines were generally short. What we learn from that is the importance of voting as early as possible.

A high priority is to avoid polling places on election day.

I’ll give more detail about what happened in Georgia when the report is finished.

You can feel proud of those residents of Fulton County who spontaneously brought pizza and water to people in line. The last voter in the places I monitored voted at about midnight. You can feel proud of the people who spent the day in line to vote. They are American heroes.

See my FAQs. I’m sure Trump will claim he lost because of voter fraud. The solution is to make sure it’s a clear victory. Also, see my FAQs about time-consuming “what ifs.” It’s better to spend our energy taking steps to secure the election.

As long as voter machines have paper trails (which means that results can be checked manually) this really isn’t the major problem. Hacking is a possibility, but a remote one. On the other hand, voter suppression can easily affect hundreds of thousands of voters. 

That’s why machine tampering is not the focus for people like Stacey Abrams, and organizations like Fight Fair. Abrams, Fair Fight, and the Georgia Voter Protection Organization (to take a few examples) focus on voter suppression and voter intimidation.

[View as a Twitter thread]

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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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