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Why We Filed with DOJ against Ballot Box Segregation
Our legal action to force Georgia to reverse the shutting of ballot dropboxes in Black counties

[Nov 29, 2022: Atlanta, GA] Last week, our investigations team reported what media missed: the number of mail-in votes in Georgia plummeted by 83%, by over one million ballots since the last Election — almost all lost in the non-white majority Atlanta counties.

Did it make a difference?

You bet: Two out of three Georgia mail-in ballots vote Democratic.

Now we’ve discovered that voters in the white-majority counties outside Atlanta have on average three times as many dropboxes per voter as Black Atlanta, a 314% difference imposed by Georgia’s new law SB202. Imposed by Jim Crow.

And Cheryle Renee Moses won’t stand for it. Moses, editor of Black Gwinnett Magazine, today teamed with the Palast Investigative Fund and filed a formal complaint with the US Department Of Justice Civil Rights Division. The legal action demands the reversal of severe restrictions on ballot dropboxes, a method of voting the state knows full well was used by over half a million African-American voters in 2020.

The poster of our film, Vigilante: Georgia’s Vote Suppression Hitman features a ballot dropbox shot full of bullet holes by Gov. Brian Kemp’s posse. Little did we know how on-target that image would become.

In her complaint, Moses, also joined by journalist George Boston Rhynes of Valdosta, Georgia, states:

  • From the 2020/2021 elections to November 2022, mail-in ballots in Georgia plummeted by over 1 million, a breathtaking 81% loss of ballots — concentrated in Black-majority urban counties.
  • A principal cause of this drop-off: SB202, signed into law last year, limits dropboxes to no more than one per one-hundred thousand active voters. This limit affects ONLY the four large Greater Atlanta counties which are 59.7% non-white. The law shuttered 77% of Atlanta-area dropboxes, declining from 107 to 25.
  • At the same time, small rural counties were required to ADD at least one dropbox. The result: a radical reduction in dropboxes in urban non-white counties to 55,862 voters per dropbox. In the remainder of Georgia, 65% white, only 18,000 voters must share a dropbox, a 314% difference.
  • Absentee balloting in the four Atlanta-area counties plummeted by 83%, not only because of the limits on number of dropboxes, but because SB202 slashed their availability: Dropboxes could only be placed INSIDE county offices and early voting stations. This sabotages the purpose of dropboxes — providing access to those with jobs or obligations that require voting outside business hours.
  • There is a new danger as Georgia is about to hold a Senate Run-off Election. The reduction in Election Run-off time from two months to just 28 days has slashed early voting to only between 5 and 7 days.
  • Squeezing the Runoff into 28 days allows little time to print, mail and return ballots through the Postal Service, making dropbox access all the more important and its reduction all the more severe in non-white communities.
  • The sole argument for reduction in dropboxes in non-white urban areas is that the boxes supposedly allow for ballot stuffing by so-called “mules,” Black men allegedly paid to sneak stolen ballots into unattended dropboxes. This phantasmagoric nonsense was promoted by a film, 2000 Mules, which was discredited by a ballot-by-ballot review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Secretary of State. Yet, the Governor, while acknowledging the lack of voter fraud, still signed SB202 with its arbitrary restrictions.
  • We recognize that the Governor, running for re-election, had to be aware that mail-in and dropbox ballots favor Democrats 2-to-1 statewide and 3-to-1 in the Atlanta counties. While there may have been a partisan advantage in restricting mail-in and dropbox voting, the effect is measurably and radically biased against voters of color.
  • Therefore, these new dropbox restrictions in urban counties (while increasing dropbox access in rural counties), with its measurable racial effects, violates the Civil Rights Acts [Title 52], the Voting Rights Act Section 2 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Read the full complaint here | Add your name to the complaint

The new Georgia law shuts all dropboxes this Friday, preventing voters, overwhelmingly voters of color, from submitting their ballots on the traditional “souls to the polls” weekend. Signatories to the complaint demand that the Justice Department order the state to keep dropboxes open and accessible through the end of run-off Election Day.

And let’s not kid ourselves. As Martin Sheen says in the introduction to Vigilante, trickery “is coming to a state near you.”

Support the Palast Fund and help us continue our work on equal ballot access for all.

 

On Wednesday, Cheryle Renee Moses and Black Gwinnett Magazine, Black Voters Matter Fund, Georgia NAACP and other Palast Fund partners held all-day screenings of Vigilante at the Norcross Center in Gwinnett County as part of a get-out-the-vote taco party (yum!) where we will provide info on how to avoid getting “Jim Crow’d” at the polling station.

These activist impact showings in Gwinnett, Valdosta, Douglas, and throughout Georgia were made possible through your generous donations to the Palast Investigative Fund. More showings are planned in churches and small communities.

 

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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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