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Georgia races are a dead heat, spelling trouble for our democracy

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”- President Donald Trump 

 

Stacey Abrams is Georgia’s resident expert on voter suppression. The 2018 election was stolen from her by an unprincipled Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who just happened to be running for Governor. Before the election, Kemp deleted 500,000 voters from the roles, 70% of them black.

After the GOP takeover of Georgia decades ago, I did not know if I would ever see another Democrat competitive statewide, but I am glad to report that I was wrong. 

The Quinnipiac survey of Georgia voters has just been issued, and it shows a tight Presidential race. Also, close Senate races. Get ready for round two, different payers but the same general voter suppression scenario. 

Surprisingly, Biden is ahead of Trump by 3% (50% to 47%). This is largely due to the fact that independents back Biden 51% to 42%, as do women 57%-39%. Men are solidly for Trump, 56 % to 41% for Biden. And, of course, whites are for Trump, 67% to 31%. For whites without college degree, the difference is even greater, 76% to 23%. 

Age also has a lot to do with voter preference. Those over 65 are solidly for Trump, 54% versus 44%. The vote is exactly the opposite for younger voters, 39% for Trump versus 59% for Biden for those under 35. 

On the issues, Biden is seen as stronger than Trump on healthcare, racial justice, and COVID response. Trump is still viewed better on the economy. 

Similar numbers can be seen in the Perdue Senate race. Perdue is at 48% with challenger Ossoff at 49%. 

On the other hand, the “jungle election” for Loeffler’s seat is wide open. Warnock is at 39%, with Loeffler and Collins trailing (23% and 22% respectively). It appears as though there will be a runoff in January with Warnock, the Democrat, facing one of them. 

Per Trump regarding universal voting efforts, “They had levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Using Kemp’s successful but clearly unethical actions as a guide, the question for Georgians now becomes: “what dirty tricks will the incumbents pull to win?” Specifically, how will the GOP seek to suppress the minority and youth vote? 

The poll tax and literacy tests were found unconstitutional, but there are other means of discouraging voters. For example, 36% of Democrats plan to vote absentee/mail in ballot versus only 11% of GOP voters. Will there be a concerted partisan effort to throw out any ballot with any possible issues, no matter how minor or insignificant? Will they continue their efforts to ensure that the postal service cannot handle the volume of ballots received? 

Will the GOP make sure that it’s as difficult as possible for minorities to vote by again purging voter rolls and reducing the number of places that people can vote in heavily black districts, causing people to wait hours in line to cast a ballot (as happened in June)? Per David Daley, author of “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy”,“If you are a Black or Latino voter in this nation, you are going to stand in line to vote 45% longer than if you are a white voter.”

Will they send out misinformation as to days and places for voting, as they have done elsewhere? Do you think it is far-fetched? Per Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, not long ago, “Macon-Bibb County, Ga.  Officials… sought to move a polling site from a majority-Black school to the local sheriff’s office.”  

If we the people really want a true democracy, there are things that can be done. We could halt the practice of finding felons ineligible to vote (even after their sentences have been served), automatically register voters at birth, expand days for voting, add voting places, mail all registered voters an absentee ballot, and make election day a national holiday for all. 

But stopping voter suppression has not been a priority in Washington since the 2013 Supreme Court effectively dismantled protections in the Voting Rights Act (see Shelby County v. Holder). The Voting Rights Advancement Act was passed by the House last year, but fell victim to Mitch McConnell, the Grim Reaper, in the Senate without even a vote. 

I suppose we will just have to wait and see what the Georgia and national GOP will do between now and the election. 

 

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.