“It is unfortunate that the ACLU hired [Greg Palast] a known Stacey Abrams shill.”So said the flak for the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia. And I’m sure that GOP Senator David Perdue thinks it “unfortunate” as well – now that their program to systematically purge Black voters in Georgia was busted, and Sen. Perdue must face a run-off against contender Jon Ossoff. A “Stacey Abrams shill”? I’ve been called worse. What raises the political hacks’ hackles is not the weird political conspiracy they’ve fantasized, but rather that the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia issued our report, “Georgia Voter Roll Purge Errors,” identifying 198,351 voters wrongly removed – overwhelmingly voters of color, low income and young voters. [If you haven’t watched our 14-minute film, The Purged and its one-minute version, do it now…and pass it on.] What angers (and worries them) is that the ACLU, Black Voters Matter and yes, Stacey Abrams’ non-partisan organization Fair Fight, simply made our investigative findings public and returned thousands of victim voters to the rolls. They are panicked. They lost the state for Trump, and now they could lose control of the US Senate in the upcoming January 5 run-offs between Sen. Perdue and Ossoff and between Rev. Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler. I get it: the state’s Red Rulers want me to go away. Well, I’ve bought a new mask and I’m marching to Georgia. (OK, flying discount.)
No miracleThe GOP’s crushing in Georgia was not a miracle nor did it just surf in on a Blue Wave. I’ve been investigating Georgia for seven tough years, ever since Martin Luther King III told me, in Atlanta, “Greg, Georgia is a Blue state…if they’d let us vote.” Honestly, it’s not my job to turn Georgia blue, green or orange. Our sole focus is to expose vote suppression trickery by either political party. But the math is clear: if you illegally remove low-income voters, the Democratic vote will increase when the crime is busted. So what happened on Tuesday in Georgia? I know this: Black Voters Matter took our report and sent 98,000 postcards to wrongly purged voters to warn them to re-register. The ACLU issued our findings. (No, Mr. Secretary of State. The ACLU didn’t “hire” us. The implication is that our results were bought. No way: the ACLU independently reviewed our work and made it public.) And we didn’t start in this Election Year. We worked on getting out the word on Georgia’s Jim Crow election games in press briefings sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP. We partnered with Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda and successfully sued Brian Kemp and his successor as Secretary of State. And good old investigative reporting. I’ve only been digging into the Georgia vote cesspool for seven years—in other states I have put in decades—and the King family has been at it for generations. We also had a huge response to our Purged videos (7 million views, 800 million impressions)—which directed voters of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina to our re-registration website, SaveMyVote2020.org. Maybe that’s one reason that this time, the President was chosen by the voters, not the purge. But the next two months require the same massive effort and more. This is not partisanship—it’s citizenship. This Sunday, I’ve been working with our team of 15, including experts, lawyers and crew already in or on their way to Georgia to cover the run-offs and investigate the new tricks we can’t yet imagine. It’s not just The Purge. During our investigation for Democracy Now! on the 2017 Congressional race between Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, we discovered other, cruder tricks: shifting voting stations from Black to White neighborhoods. For Rolling Stone and Al Jazeera, we discovered the state had threatened, and effectively shut down, a Korean-American voter registration drive. And, yes, with Stacey Abrams’ help, we discovered that the state simply refused to add newly registered young voters to the rolls. And along the way, we had to file suits, get insiders to pass us the incriminating information, create websites to inform voters, attend a Trump rally or two and even get busted by Georgia Smokeys for trying to ask now-Gov. Brian Kemp about his purge operations. (Let me not over-dramatize: It was a quick catch-and-release to prevent embarrassing questions while cameras rolled.) The changing of the political order does not ride in on a wave. It takes years of work … and the next two months will be the capstone. But this is a truly non-partisan effort. (And Lord knows, the Democratic Party is not happy when I turn my attention to their own shenanigans.) Indeed, I not only gave our information to the ACLU and Black Voters Matter, we also offered our entire file to Secretary of State Raffensperger. Republican or Democratic, our government should be concerned about wrongly taking away any American’s sacred right to vote. My foundation even offered to pay the cost of correcting the state’s lists. So far, the response has been a series of gross prevarications and nasty ad hominem attacks. I can live with that. It’s not my business to defeat a candidate, but it is my business to defeat Jim Crow. We did not plan for this post-election election. But the War on Voting is now about to get nastier—and we have the unique skills to expose the attacks. I’m asking you to help with a donation of any amount. A $100 tax-deductible donation will get you a supporter screen credit in our upcoming film. And for those with deep pockets, get a co-producer credit for $500 and a producer credit for $1,000. Candidates of all parties will drown in donations for this run-off. But there’s no sense winning over voters—whose right to vote has vanished.
Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman
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