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Why does it always come down to Georgia?
There's no question that it's Jim Crow forcing Reverend Raphael Warnock into a runoff

As control of the Senate hangs in the balance, once again, the balance of power may be decided in Georgia. And once again, as in 2020, Reverend Raphael Warnock [D] is headed for a runoff race — but this time the rules of the game have been changed. In March 2021, Brian Kemp signed SB202 — 98 pages of terrifying, sophisticated Jim Crow trickery — which places severe restrictions on absentee ballots and dropboxes, and has unleashed an army of self-appointed GOP vote vigilantes, who are challenging voters en masse. Adding to the odds against a fair fight, convenient errors have come to light which affect thousands of voters. For example, in Cobb County, the ACLU found that 1,036 absentee ballots were never mailed. And under SB202, the rules for the runoff election itself have changed, with the time frame being shortened from 9 weeks to just 4, meaning the election will now be held on Dec 6, instead of in January as it was two years ago. This change may seem benign, but it will deny thousands of young and new voters, who may have wanted to vote in the runoff race, the chance to do so, since SB202 also requires voters to register at least 30 days before an election — and, in this case, the runoff election is one that voters only had 28 days notice of. As the head of the New Georgia Project, Kendra Cotton, said of democracy in Georgia: It’s death by a thousand cuts.

TRANSCRIPT: Election Crimes Bulletin — Nov 9,2022

Dennis Bernstein: Today control of the House and the Senate remain up in the air, as President Biden struck an optimistic tone at the White House. Georgia’s Senate race will head to a runoff, while races in Arizona and Nevada have yet to be called. But it’s the race in Georgia that’s really at the center of all of it… The runoff is in a month. Greg, what are your concerns as you continue to investigate, and continue your multi-year investigation into election crimes there? Where are we, Greg? Where’s this going? It seems like you’re in the right place at the right time, although some folks would not want you there.

GregPalast: To say the least. Actually, I’m turning from Reverend Lowery Boulevard onto Reverend Ralph Abernathy Boulevard, so, my personal concern is after nine years, why am I still coming back to Georgia? So, I’ll let you in on it. In fact, I had a discussion with the head of the New Georgia Project. Why is it always Georgia? Which, as Zach Roberts says, is the test kitchen of the of the vote suppression technique. So, it is coming back down to Georgia, who’s gonna control the Senate, at least this Senate race. And there’ll be a runoff between Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and a football hero from Texas, Herschel Walker, who graced Georgia by moving in to run for Senate. I am very concerned, speaking with the leadership of the New Georgia Project today, and the other organizations, there is again this new law, 98 pages of terrifying, sophisticated Jim Crow trickery, called SB 202, signed by Governor Brian Kemp, who defeated Stacey Abrams last night.

There’s going to be a runoff because Warnock fell, we don’t have a final count, but it looks like just a couple thousand votes short. He is ahead, but he didn’t win 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff. And there’s no question speaking to all leadership that it’s Jim Crow which is forcing him into a runoff. He’d have won it clean, but for several things, including the fact, for example, that a thousand absentee ballots [weren’t mailed out to voters] in Cobb County, a Democratic county. We only know about the thousand because it’s a Democratic county. They said that we made a mistake and we’re gonna correct it. We’re gonna let those people vote up until November 14th, the military deadline. There’s 159 counties in Georgia, and clearly there’s been a massive attack on mail-in voting.

They removed dropboxes… there’s an 83 percent drop in mail-in balloting. Is it because people don’t know how to lick a stamp? No… Mail-in voting used to be Republican turf, but during COVID in 2020 it switched so that it’s almost all Democrats, progressive voters, voters of color. And the Republicans decided to go on a campaign against mail-in voting, so they made it almost impossible. You have to include identification with a mail-in vote. You’re not getting your ballots on time… In addition, they virtually eliminated dropboxes. If the Post Office said we’re eliminating Post Office boxes, you can only mail letters during open Post Office hours, that’s the type of games that they’re playing. So, you had a drop in mail-in ballots of 1.2 million.

But there’s something else going on in this runoff. They changed the runoff. Remember they got wiped out, the Republicans, they lost both Senate seats in a runoff on January 5 of last year. They lost two Senate seats, the Republicans, so their response was to cut the runoff time from 60 days to 30 days. You may say, well, what’s the big deal? The answer is this: you need more than 30 days to register to vote in Georgia, and therefore the deadline to register for the runoff was the day before the general election yesterday. I kid you not. So that if you say, Oh my God, America’s fate is down to this runoff, I’m gonna register. Or, I’m old enough now to register — literally thousands of people would qualify, young people, they’re Democratic voters. So, they’ve missed the deadline. That’s how they designed it… to make it impossible. You would miss the deadline for registering for the runoff by one day. It’s brilliant.

Bernstein: You’d need a time machine to vote…By the way, this did not come up at the presidential press conference. It was a happy face, everything is going beautifully, no problems with voter suppression in Georgia. It didn’t exist in most of the press conference that I heard. But, in any event, you’ve got a film that’s very important. It’s called Vigilante: George’s Voter Suppression Hitman. It’s important…and it really sheds a powerful spotlight on what we’re talking about here… And, well, just remind people… because it’s all happening in Georgia, a place where this has been part of the plan since the plantation.

GregPalast: Yes. So, let me mention something very important. In Georgia, you have automatic voter registration when you get a driver’s license, like a lot of states, like California. But the Secretary of State’s office admitted that it made a “mistake” in turning off the automatic registration when people were registering – the new young voters and the new people moving into Georgia from the north. So, they come in and they get their driver’s license, it’s overwhelmingly Democratic, the people applying for driver’s licenses, it’s a Democratic demographic. They, supposedly, accidentally for six months — for half of this year — shut off the registration when you get your driver’s license. One county alone, Cobb County, said they lost a hundred thousand voters. Let me repeat that: They lost a hundred thousand voters. It’s a Democratic demographic. And the Secretary of State’s office, who’s a Republican, said, we’re so sorry, we fixed the problem. And so the New Georgia Project, which was an organization founded by Stacey Abrams years ago, they said, well, what do you mean, you fixed the problem? You’re registering those people? Oh no, just that in the future, after the election (of course), if someone registers their car or they register for a license, or get a license, we’ll register them to vote. But they’re not gonna take those hundred thousand people and put them on the rolls. People who thought that they were being registered automatically, and they weren’t — a hundred thousand voters.

Senator Reverend Warnock is going to have to go through a fight in a runoff because he’s missing a couple thousand votes. Just in that registration game was his clean victory. Just as in the sending out of absentee ballots, the closing of the dropboxes, every one of these things, and a new rule that requires you to include ID. People didn’t know that they had include their ID. It’s very confusing, these absentee ballots — deliberately. And then they are stalling adding people to the voter roll. In California, you go online, you register, you get instant verification, you are now a voter — welcome! In Georgia, you register and they say they have to verify your address. Well, just a second, they’ll issue a driver’s license immediately, but then when they register you to vote, they have to verify? What does it mean? I thought that they verified it when you got your driver’s license. They let you drive a car with that address.

So, each of these little things, like New Georgia Project said to me today, the head of it, Kendra Cotton, she said, look, it’s death by a thousand cuts. That’s how they take these elections. Because in Georgia, it’s always a few thousand votes one way or the other for the parties. And, you know, they simply pull people off the registries, there’s also massive disqualification of ballots.

One of the tricks that they use is that you have to match your driver’s license exactly — exactly— to your registration name and your signature. So, for example, I had breakfast this morning with the last leader of New Georgia Project, Nsé Ufot. She has an African name. In the state records, they’re always getting it wrong. She has an accent over the E on her name. And so, if she has a driver’s license with the accent and a registration form without the accent, her vote’s disqualified. These are the games that are being played here. It’s ugly and it’s Jim Crow, but…nothing screams “we’re aiming at Black people.” But who has names like Mohamed, which are miskeyed into the state registrations, the voter registry list? You have to understand, these races are being determined by a few votes in each direction, so all they have to do is shave here and shave there and shave there. But they test drive these techniques in Georgia and as Martin Sheen, my producer, says in the introduction to our film, it starts in Georgia, but it’s coming to a state near you.

Bernstein: Greg, let me just jump in here and ask the dumb question. Why wouldn’t the Democratic party officials be jumping up and down? Because this appears to be happening under their eyes… Why would the Democrats be so quiet?

Palast: Okay, the National Democratic Party… and, again, the state party is headed by Stacey Abrams — she screams bloody murder. But even she’s been told to shut up. As you know, the president said, don’t vote for anyone who won’t accept the results of an election. And of course, Stacey Abrams famously was the first candidate in a long time to say, this vote wasn’t fair. I got the most votes, but I won’t be inaugurated. I do not concede. I do not accept this election. I know that I can’t win in the courts on this, but America shouldn’t lose this way, the voters should decide. And she got slammed by the National Democratic Party — slammed… I can’t explain it, all I can tell you is that’s what it is.

And, therefore, the groups in Georgia do not rely on the Democratic Party to save their vote… That’s why these groups are staunchly nonpartisan. They’re saying, we’re not here for the Democratic Party, we’re here for the voters. And, yes, most of our voters are voters of color, young people, there’s a huge LGBTQ population here, Atlanta’s kind of the San Francisco of the South. They say these voters, yeah, they’ll vote Democratic, but they are voters, they’re not Democratic voters. And so therefore, the fight for the vote can’t be partisan, because if you’re gonna rely on the Democratic Party to protect you, good luck.

Bernstein: Is there any chance… you know, there are hosts here and there, if you will, they’re not usually the regular ones on the corporate networks that have expressed a bit of outrage and touched on the subject, the issue that you’ve been on for so long. Any interest in your work? I mean, BBC, Rolling Stone, you certainly have a reputation for reporting, particularly about elections. What’s the deal?

Palast: What we have to do is we have to work around the so-called news and comment programs. I was just told MSDNC, as I call it, does not want me on. I was scheduled… Again, the line is American elections are perfect. Yes, we can use the term “vote suppression” as long as it’s well before an election, but somehow vote suppression actually never affects the outcome. And so I’m a party pooper. I’m, you know, the guy in his underpants at the debutante ball. They don’t want that. But, it’s not a complaint about me. So, we use various tricks. For example, when Martin Luther King’s 92 year old cousin was bounced from the polls in Georgia, and I filmed that. I filmed her granddaughter, who was hysterical in tears, that this 92-year old woman was bounced out of the polls wrongly. We got her on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah… So, we work around it. We get people like Jamie Foxx. We tell the story through, you know, the great Boots Riley, who takes our message out through the music world…

Look, if you are expecting the corporate media to take on a position that’s going to threaten the ownership of the powerful… Because this in the end is the real story. Talking to the head of New Georgia Project tonight, she said, look, yes, it’s racial. Yes, it’s ugly. Yes, it’s partisan. That is, it’s usually the Republicans who are leading this charge. But, she says, in the end it’s about the money. It’s about corporate and oligarch power in America. This is how they keep it. And it’s the same oligarchs that own the media. That’s why I’m talking to you on Pacifica Radio. That’s why I’m talking to you on KPFA and KPFK and all the other wonderful outlets that carry the Election Crimes Bulletin, because, you know, there’s no one at Pacifica that’s afraid that they’re gonna lose their yacht. That they’re gonna be taxed because Black people are allowed to vote. So, in the end, it comes down to class war, because the truth is vote suppression is class war by other means.

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Dennis J. Bernstein is the executive producer and host of Flashpoints, an award winning front-line investigative news magazine focusing on human, civil and workers' rights, issues of war and peace, global warming, racism and poverty, and other issues. Flashpoints is broadcast weekdays at 5 PM PST on the Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM (94.1) in Berkeley, California and is relayed on Pacifica's national feed.

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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