It’s Not Just Georgia: More Than A Dozen Other States Are Trying To Take Power Away From Local Election Officials

“Most of these bills are not as aggressive as Georgia’s, but they all undermine localities’ ability to self-rule. In this way, Illinois State University political scientist Lori Riverstone-Newell told FiveThirtyEight, they’re part of an increasing trend of states preempting local government in order to retain power for themselves: Conservative legislatures, in particular, have passed several laws in recent years that limit the types of laws municipalities can pass, including sanctuary-city protections, anti-LGBT discrimination ordinances and minimum-wage increases (especially in the South). These laws can often have what Riverstone-Newell calls a “chilling effect,” where the mere threat of having their power taken away makes local officials afraid to govern as they see fit.”

Trump Never Told Georgia’s Lead Election Investigator To ‘Find the Fraud’

“One of the most damning indictments of President Donald Trump’s behavior in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 presidential election was that he allegedly pressured Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud.” The Washington Post first reported this detail on January 9, and countless other mainstream media sites publicized it.

But that reporting was wrong. Trump never used the phrase “find the fraud” during his December phone call with Frances Watson, the chief investigator within the secretary of state’s office; moreover, he never promised Watson that she would be a “national hero” if she did discover evidence of fraud.”

“Watson discovered an audio file during an effort to retrieve documents for a public records request. This file, which was published last week by The Wall Street Journal, makes clear that the quotes supplied by the anonymous source were erroneous.

During the call, Trump told Watson that she had “the most important job in the country” and that she would be praised “when the right answer comes out.” He also made several incorrect statements, and continuously asserted that he had actually won the state of Georgia.

“I won Georgia, I know that, by a lot, and the people know it,” said Trump. “Something happened. Something bad happened.”

Trump deserves criticism for repeatedly and loudly making this false claim, which eventually culminated in some of this more rabid and deluded supporters assaulting the U.S. Capitol. But the notion that he pressured Watson to specifically uncover evidence of fraud looks much weaker now that a recording of the call has been released.

Trump’s other call with Georgian election officials, a transcript of which has been available for months, continues to look quite bad for him: He repeatedly stated an exact number of votes that he would like the investigators to discover. It would not be wrong to conclude that Trump inappropriately exerted pressure on Georgian election officials. But he did not say precisely what the media alleged that he had said”

Why Georgia has runoff elections

“At first glance, Georgia’s law requiring majorities for an outright victory seems inoffensive — the person who wins has to be chosen by most of the people who cast their votes. In theory, this would force candidates to appeal to more voters instead of winning with a large plurality of votes while holding views anathema to the majority of the electorate.

But Georgia’s runoff system has a darker origin: Many historians say it was designed to make it harder for the preferred candidates of Black voters to win, and to suppress Black political power.”

“It effectively began in 1962, when the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s old electoral system. That older system, called a “county-unit system,” was created 45 years prior to amplify rural voters’ power while disadvantaging Black voters’, and was “kind of a poor man’s Electoral College,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock told Vox.

Forced to come up with a new system, Georgia created one intended to continue undermining Black voters’ influence. That was the runoff system”

“”In 1963, state representative Denmark Groover from Macon introduced a proposal to apply majority-vote, runoff election rules to all local, state, and federal offices. A staunch segregationist, Groover’s hostility to black voting was reinforced by personal experience. Having served as a state representative in the early 1950s, Groover was defeated for election to the House in 1958. The Macon politico blamed his loss on “Negro bloc voting.” He carried the white vote, but his opponent triumphed by garnering black ballots by a five-to-one margin.

Groover soon devised a way to challenge growing black political strength. Elected to the House again in 1962, he led the fight to enact a majority vote, runoff rule for all county and state contests in both primary and general elections. Until 1963, plurality voting was widely used in Georgia county elections””

“Groover wanted to stop Black Georgians from voting as a “bloc” — that is, overwhelmingly for one candidate or party — while white Georgians split their votes among many candidates. In a plurality system, if Black voters were able to keep a coalition behind one candidate, they wouldn’t need the support of many white voters for their preferred candidate to win elections.

The method was popular across the former Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas all have general election runoffs. As the Washington Post reported, just two non-Southern states have runoff rules, and those “almost never matter””

“There are some, like Bullock, who don’t believe this was designed to be a racially discriminatory institution, pointing out that the use of runoffs began at a time when Black voters had already been largely eliminated from the voter rolls. Others have said there were good governance reasons for implementing the runoff system.

However, Cal Jillson, a professor at Southern Methodist University, told the Washington Post that most of the states that adopted runoff systems did it to “maintain white Democratic domination of local politics. Letters and speeches that survive from the period show race was very much on the minds of those Democrats who advocated the primary-runoff process. ‘People had no misgivings about stating their real intentions and stating them in racial terms,’” Jillson told the paper.”

“As if to simplify the historical record, decades after Groover fought to institute run-off elections, he admitted: “I was a segregationist. I was a county unit man. But if you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced. I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”

Groover also confirmed that he “used the phrase ‘bloc voting’ as a racist euphemism for Negro voting.” A DeKalb County representative who supported Groover “remembered Groover saying on the House floor: ‘[W]e have got to go the majority vote because all we have to have is a plurality and the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge if we don’t go for the majority vote.””

The Way to Keep Georgia Blue

“Based upon available exit polling, Democrats won Georgia with a combination of white college-educated, Black and Latino voters. Black voters led the way with a whopping 88 percent of those voters supporting Biden; they make up 29 percent of all voters in Georgia. Latinos and white college-educated voters made up the rest of this winning coalition of voters with 62 percent and 57 percent of these voters turning out for Biden, respectively. Combined, these voters make up a large subsection of all voters in Georgia. Based on data currently available on the final vote counts, we are tracking an increase of about 200,000 more Black voters in 2020 than in 2016.

Add in increased Asian American and Latino Democratic participation, and a true Obama-era coalition emerges. This is thanks to the work of Black Voters Matter, New Georgia Project founded by Stacey Abrams, and other state-based organizers who turned out what we call high-potential voters — voters who don’t have vote histories, but if you talk to them, are likely to engage and lean Democratic.”

Trump’s call with Georgia’s secretary of state is a subversion of democracy

“Audio from the full 62-minute call was published by the Post Sunday, including an exchange where Trump threatens Raffensperger and Germany with imminent legal consequences should they fail to overturn the already certified results.

“That’s a criminal offense,” Trump tells Raffensperger and Germany on the call, apparently in reference to Raffensperger not reporting made-up instances of election fraud. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk.”

Trump also raised a number of conspiracy theories resembling those promoted by onetime Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who was cut loose by the Trump campaign’s legal team as her election fraud allegations became increasingly outlandish.”

“Trump aired a version of the Dominion conspiracy during his Saturday call.

“Now, do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County?” Trump asked Germany on the call. “Because that’s what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal, right?”

As Germany affirmed on the call, none of Trump’s allegations are true.

Despite the Trump legal team’s move to disavow Powell, Trump has reportedly remained enamored with her theories. According to a New York Times report from December, he briefly considered naming Powell as special counsel to investigate his baseless claims of voter fraud, though he was ultimately talked down by aides.”

“Though Sunday’s Washington Post scoop provides arguably the starkest example of Trump’s long-running attempts to subvert democracy in order to remain in power — not to mention a more than passing resemblance to President Richard Nixon’s presidency-ending tapes — it is by no means the only time Trump has mounted an effort of this sort since losing reelection.

In at least three other battleground states that he lost to Biden — Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — Trump has directly reached out to lawmakers and other officials to urge them to help him overturn the election results in their states, potentially awarding him an unelected second term in office.”

4 criminal laws that Trump may have violated in his Georgia election call

“On Sunday, the Washington Post published a recording of an extraordinary phone call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the outgoing president urged Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.

Over the course of the call, which took place on Saturday, Trump raised several baseless claims that some of the ballots cast in the state of Georgia are “corrupt,” as well as evidence-free claims that some unidentified person is “shredding ballots” in the state. Trump claims that Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, are taking a “big risk” — suggesting that Raffensperger and Germany are engaged in criminal conduct themselves by covering up these imagined election crimes. And then Trump drops this bombshell:

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.”

Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, so if Raffensperger were to somehow “find” 11,780 votes, Trump would take the lead in that state. Raffensperger, to his credit, repeatedly rebuffed Trump.”

How Georgia Turned Blue

“how did Georgia go from light red to blue — or at the very least, purple?

The answer is pretty simple: The Atlanta area turned really blue in the Trump era. Definitions differ about the exact parameters of the Atlanta metropolitan area, but 10 counties1 are part of a governing collaborative called the Atlanta Regional Commission. Almost 4.7 million people live in those 10 counties, or around 45 percent of the state’s population.

Until very recently, the Atlanta area wasn’t a liberal bastion. There was a Democratic bloc that long controlled the government within the city limits of Atlanta and a Republican bloc that once dominated the suburbs”

“suburban Atlanta is trending blue”

No, you cannot move to Georgia just to vote in the Senate runoffs

“It’s illegal to move to Georgia temporarily just to vote in an election and then leave. Georgia state officials are strongly urging prospective out-of-state voters to stay home, warning them they’ll face steep penalties if they vote fraudulently.”

Georgia Republicans cancel election for state Supreme Court, so governor can appoint a Republican

“The state of Georgia was supposed to hold an election Tuesday to fill a seat on the state Supreme Court. Justice Keith Blackwell, a Republican whose six-year term expires on the last day of this year, did not plan to run for reelection. The election, between former Democratic Rep. John Barrow and former Republican state lawmaker Beth Beskin, would determine who would fill Blackwell’s seat.
But then something weird happened: Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and the state’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, canceled Tuesday’s election. Instead, Kemp will appoint Blackwell’s successor, and that successor will serve for at least two years — ensuring the seat will remain in Republican hands.

On May 14, the state Supreme Court handed down a decision that effectively blessed this scheme to keep Blackwell’s seat in the GOP’s hands. The court’s decision in Barrow v. Raffensperger is unusual in many regards — among other things, six of the state’s regular Supreme Court justices recused from the case, and they were replaced by five lower court judges who sat temporarily on the state’s highest court. The court’s decision in Barrow turns upon poorly drafted language in the state constitution, which does suggest that Blackwell, Kemp, and Raffensperger’s scheme was legal.”

“In late February, just a few days before the deadline for candidates to file to run to replace Justice Blackwell was about to expire, Blackwell sent a letter to Kemp announcing that he intends to resign his seat, effective November 18. That means that Blackwell will leave office a few weeks before his term was set to expire on December 31.

Shortly after receiving this letter, Kemp formally accepted Blackwell’s future resignation. The governor then informed Raffensperger, the state’s chief elections officer, that he intended to fill Blackwell’s seat by gubernatorial appointment. In response, Raffensperger canceled the election to fill Blackwell’s seat, which was scheduled for May 19.

Both Democratic candidate Barrow and Republican candidate Beskin filed lawsuits seeking to reinstate the election, but these pleas were rejected by the state Supreme Court in a 6-2 vote.”

“an appointed justice may serve until January 1, 2023 — and longer, if that justice eventually wins the 2022 election. The new justice will also be able to run with all the advantages incumbency provides.”

“As a practical matter, this decision is likely to prove very easy for retiring justices to game if they belong to the same political party as the incumbent governor. Indeed, under the court’s decision in Barrow, Blackwell likely could have announced that he would resign effective December 30 — just one day before his term would have expired — and Kemp still would have gained the power to name Blackwell’s replacement.”