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Voting Rights Advocates Primed to Continue Battle Against Voter Suppression

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Adam Sweat,  

678-951-2172

asweat@progeorgia.org

media@progeorgia.org

Voting Rights Advocates Primed to Continue Battle Against Voter Suppression

April 1, 2021 (ATLANTA, GA) – Since the legislative session began on January 11th, Republican members of both the state House and Senate have aggressively pursued an agenda to fundamentally change voting rights in the state of Georgia. With more than twelve bills successfully passed, including the omnibus Senate Bill 202 which has totally upended elections administration in the state, there was a clear pattern at play: the most vulnerable residents of our state are being inappropriately targeted by voter suppression laws, says the Election Administration Coalition. 

“Georgia voters proved this election cycle that when voting is made more convenient and accessible, they are willing and able to fully participate in the process,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “More than 5 million people turned out for the general election and 4.5 million for the U.S. Senate runoffs in the middle of a pandemic expressly because things like vote by mail and the use of dropboxes and extended early voting hours made the process more user friendly. The current effort to rollback voting accessibility is an affront to our democratic process.”

Now that Governor Kemp has signed into law legislation that fundamentally alters the course of voting in the state of Georgia, the Election Administration Coalition is turning its eye toward increased voter education efforts and supporting the lawsuits that have been filed in opposition to the bills passed this session. “Governor Kemp and the legislature have sent a clear signal that their greatest interest is in advancing partisan outcomes rather than increasing democratic participation across the state,” said Malika Redmond, Executive Director of Women Engaged. “Now more than ever, as we continue to grapple with the realities of COVID-19, we need a process in place that will ensure increased opportunity to participate in the democratic process through voting. We have a long road ahead, but we will not be deterred. The people of Georgia deserve better and we stand ready to defend and protect the voting  rights of our state’s residents” 

Senate Bill 202 along with other voter suppression legislation passed this session does everything from curtail the use of dropboxes to increasing requirements for voter identification and limiting the window during which eligible voters can both register to vote and cast their ballots. Disproportionately, those impacted by this legislation are Black and Brown people and members of low-income, underserved and traditionally underrepresented communities. “It’s hard to envision that this level of legislative overhaul would’ve been attempted had the results of the general and runoff elections been different,” said Megan Gordon-Kane, Public Affairs Manager at the Feminist Women’s Health Center. “I can’t imagine that we would’ve seen this kind of push if so many women and people of color hadn’t turned out to vote.”

County election officials have also expressed their concern and opposition to these bills, saying that they take away local control of election administration while simultaneously increasing the financial burden on counties to run elections. “This is a power grab, at best,” said Susannah Scott, President for the League of Women Voters for Georgia, noting that the takeover of county election boards will enable state legislators to remove county supervisors.

The Election Administration Coalition is actively engaged in exploring solutions to the problems created by Senate Bill 202, and the groups are preparing intensified voter education and engagement efforts to counter the damaging effects of these new laws.

About The Election Administration Coalition

The Election Administration Coalition is a group of non-profit, non-partisan organizations working to uphold safe and fair elections in Georgia. The Coalition includes Georgia Votes, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Black Voters Matter, Georgia Conservation Voters, Women Engaged, and 9to5 Georgia.

Georgia Votes Declares: Don’t Bother My Ballot

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Adam Sweat

asweat@progeorgia.org, 678-951-2172

Georgia Votes Declares: Don’t Bother My Ballot 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 (ATLANTA, GA) – Yesterday, on the heels of a string of proposed legislation that aims to roll back Georgia voters’ access to the ballot, Georgia Votes held a press conference demanding fair and transparent election laws for the state. 

“After what many would argue was the most successful election in Georgia history given the volume of voter turnout especially during a pandemic, we are now faced with the specter of regressive laws that seek to suppress the voices and votes of Georgia residents,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “There has been no evidence to date of massive absentee voting fraud in Georgia or elsewhere in the 2020 election cycle,” she continued, “and there should be no rush to change a process based upon false narratives about absentee ballot fraud.”

Georgia Votes collaborative includes: All Voting is Local-Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Black Voters Matters, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, LCF Georgia, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Georgia NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The New Georgia Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The collaborative rejected baseless claims of voter fraud and emphasized a need to expand, rather than suppress the voting rights of communities across the state. 

“Georgia’s systems are set up to be secure and have multiple failsafes to prevent improper voting. Elections officials double-check absentee ballot applications and returned ballots against the voter rolls,” said Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause. “Elections officials perform signature verification on both the application and the outside envelope of voted ballots. Voters with internet access are able to track their ballots online. The system is set up to be secure — and it works. The Cobb County audit proved that.”   

The collaborative insists that there are alternative means for confirming the identity of voters who submit absentee ballot applications and ballots that are far less burdensome than any of the proposals set forth thus far.  With nearly a dozen new voter restriction laws introduced in the last week, Georgia Votes is on high alert and prepared to mobilize to make sure that Georgia state legislators know that voters want more – not fewer – options to participate in the democratic process. 

“Copying photo IDs multiple times during an election cycle is an unreasonable and unnecessary burden on voters,” said Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. “In a single election cycle, voters could be forced to make 10 or more copies of their photo ID to enclose with each application for an absentee ballot and with the ballot itself. This is just another attempt to curtail the rights of everyday Georgians and to make it harder for diverse, underrepresented and unserved members of our community to vote.”

This proposed legislation would place an undue burden on the communities of color that showed record turn out in Georgia’s 2020 election cycle. 

AAPI voters, along with Black and Hispanic voters, proved instrumental to the historic voter turnout we’ve seen over the past year. “Bills such as SB 29 take a direct aim at the culture of civic engagement that we’ve been able to build in Georgia. This bill and bills like it are detrimental to voters of all kinds, not just because of race and color, but also because of socioeconomic status,” said LaVita Tuff, Policy Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. “If we dont push back on bills of this kind, we will continue to see a false narrative painted and stated against voters that are untrue, not sustainable, and will continue to threaten their civic engagement and civil rights. We cannot stand for it.”

The full press conference can be viewed here.

About Georgia Votes
Georgia Votes is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. Georgia Votes supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of our diverse partner organizations, and develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of our constituencies.

Georgia Coalition of Civic Engagement Organizations to Out of State Volunteers: Stay at Home

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

Georgia––for the fourth time since the pandemic ground the nation and the world to a halt in March––is facing yet another election amid rising COVID-19 cases. While our priority as a coalition has always been driving civic engagement and protecting the voting rights of all Georgians, this year we have the added responsibility of keeping voters, poll workers, and election officials safe. 

In a democracy, equal access to the ballot box is critical and so is the enthusiastic participation of volunteers who make elections happen and protect that asset. There is no greater testament to the incredible work of Georgians across the state than the nationwide excitement we’ve seen in response to the January 5th runoffs. We are heartened by the responses we’ve received and look forward to helping all prospective volunteers get involved in the runoffs––from their homes. 

Our coalition is diverse and represents Black and marginalized communities, whom we are working tirelessly to get out the vote, and those are the same communities that are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.

COVID-19 is threatening Georgia’s healthcare system, which is already being stretched to its limits. State leaders are pleading with out-of-state volunteers to find ways to contribute from their homes and we agree wholeheartedly. 

As much as we welcome the enthusiasm about our upcoming Senate runoffs and understand the desire some may feel to contribute to the elections, we do not condone people coming from out of state to do voter registration and canvassing in Georgia. In fact, we highly discourage those efforts. 

Our coalition and others across the state are working together on an agreement not to canvass given current events. While we understand that in-person voter contact can be one of the most effective ways to get people engaged, we are very mindful of the very real threat that this virus poses to our communities. This is also why we remain fervent advocates of voting by mail. 

Even as democracy hangs in the balance, we simply cannot put lives at risk even as we continue to protect the right to vote. While, we understand that there are instances in which in-person contact is the only or best feasible means of engaging would-be voters, and in those cases, some organizations are conducting contactless canvassing and staying safe – and protecting others – by using PPE. Well-trained organizers who are familiar with these communities and the proper protocol to maintain to increase safety outcomes are the only people who should be out and about doing in-person voter outreach. In most instances, out of state residents simply don’t have the training or the time to best understand the landscape in order to safely engage in this process.

The most important thing our coalition can and will do at this time is to raise awareness about the importance of voting in the U.S. Senate runoffs, while also taking care of each other and keeping everyone as safe as possible. 

Out of state volunteers interested in participating in the elections should stay home and find ways to plug in by visiting GoVoteGA.org, contributing monetary donations to help get out the vote in much-needed communities, and exploring virtual volunteer opportunities, which includes text and phone banking and virtual canvass parties. 

When the January runoffs approach in a mere matter of weeks, we look forward to seeing Georgian’s excitement carried over from the November general election and multiplied––in a safe and secure election.

Election Protection Coalition Says Enough is Enough, We Have Fair Elections and Poll Workers Must be Protected

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Adam Sweat

678.951.2172

asweat@progeorgia.org

Election Protection Coalition Says Enough is Enough, We Have Fair Elections and Poll Workers Must be Protected

December 8, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) – With 27 days remaining until the U.S. Senate runoffs, the Election Protection Coalition is fighting double duty––working hard to ensure that Georgia voters have all the information they need to fully participate in the January 5, 2021 election, and warding off partisan rhetoric that threatens the lives of poll workers.

“The fact of the matter is that Georgia’s elections process has been fair and safe thus far, and while voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the state, voter intimidation is alive and well,” said Helen Butler, Chair of the Election Protection Coalition and Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.

The Election Protection Coalition emphasized that people should have confidence that their ballots count and their voices matter, despite any amount of rhetoric to the contrary. Regardless of recent declarations that the State Senate will seek to change voter laws at the start of the January legislative session, the processes that Georgia already has in place uphold voter integrity work. Georgians can rely on both valid and safe means to cast their ballots in the runoffs just as they did during the primaries and in the general election. To be clear, there is no voter fraud at play.

“Poll workers stand on the front lines of defending our democracy,” said Susannah Scott, President, League of Women Voters of Georgia, “and our state benefits from the assistance and effort of well-trained, dutiful and diligent poll workers. Their credibility and work ethic––and the validity of the ballots they help tabulate––should not be put in question just to satisfy partisan agendas, and by all means, their safety should never be jeopardized because of their administration of this important work.”

About The Election Protection Coalition
The Election Protection Coalition is a group of non-profit, non-partisan organizations working to uphold safe and fair elections in Georgia. The Coalition includes Georgia Votes, All Voting is Local-Georgia, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause and Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters of Georgia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Georgia NAACP, The New Georgia Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Voting Rights Organizations Insist “Every Vote Must Be Counted”

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Adam Sweat

678-951-2172 

asweat@progeorgia.org

Voting Rights Organizations Insist “Every Vote Must Be Counted”

November 4, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) – As the nation awaits the final results of the presidential election, a coalition of Georgia based civic engagement and voting rights organizations are urging election officials to continue counting ballots until every vote is counted. “In what has been an unprecedented year, from the global outbreak of COVID-19 to a series of natural disasters and economic recession, we must show that our democracy can withstand even the greatest challenges,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “All voices matter and every vote must be counted.”

Counties continue to count absentee ballots and early votes, as well as provisional ballots issued amid technical difficulties at several polling locations on Election Day. “It is not lost on us that this election marked the first time in more than two decades that Georgia is considered an actual battleground state,” said Jerry Gonzales, CEO of GALEO. “In roughly that same period of time, we have increased the population of registered Hispanic voters by 2,560%! Now more than ever, our people need to appreciate just how much their voices and votes do, in fact, matter. That only happens by counting every vote.”

Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, echoed this sentiment. “Issues of diversity, inclusion, and representation were all on the ballot this election, and Georgia voters have the right to make sure that our representatives reflect our values and are committed to improving our communities. The will of the people will only be fully expressed,” she said, “if all votes are counted.

All of the leaders, whose organizations are part of the Georgia Votes collaborative, have a common message: the process is working and we must give election officials the time and space to safely and adequately count and process all votes.

About Georgia Votes

Georgia Votes is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. 

Poll workers are the backbone of our election system, and Georgia needs more of them.

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

As the November 3rd general election rapidly approaches, Georgia is once again in need of poll workers who can assist with the voting process leading up to and on Election Day. 

The June 9th primary elections were proof of the critical importance of poll workers, the first lines of defense for our democracy. Poll workers are trained to comply with election laws and make sure the election process is fair and effective for all eligible voters.

Despite the long lines, malfunctioning voting machines, and other issues many Georgians—particularly Georgians of color— faced during the primary elections, poll workers were there to solve issues as needed, report issues and make the voting process as safe as it can possibly be during a pandemic. 

In many ways, the issues that were faced during the primary could have been prevented if more poll workers were on hand to help. That’s why the Georgia Election Protection Coalition is working to expand the number of poll workers across the state, in areas big and small, rural and urban, wealthy and underprivileged. Because we understand that every single community in this state deserves the opportunity to vote in free and fair elections and in the safest conditions possible. 

The need is dire and time is running out. As the AJC recently reported, there are “over 5 million voters” expected in this year’s election and “election officials say they need over 20,000 workers statewide by Nov. 3.” 

Georgia is ground zero for voter suppression and we’ve seen it happen before. Poll workers can make the difference between an election disaster like we saw in June, and a successful, safe election that Georgians deserve. In communities of color, where voter suppression runs rampant, trust in election officials may be low. In those areas, it is critical to have poll workers on hand that are from those communities and look like them to ensure their voting experience is a good one. 

The qualifications to be a poll worker are simple: you must be 16 years old or older, live in the county where you want to serve as a poll worker, and communicate both in written form and verbally in English.  Pay varies by country and workers do any variety of tasks including greeting and directing voters, troubleshooting technical issues, and ensuring ballots are securely turned in at the end of the voting process. 

If there were ever a year to do your part, this is it. This is the time to stand up and help your community have the best possible voting experience for a critically important election. 

Sign up to work as a poll worker, by visiting https://www.govotega.org/pollworkers/

The Georgia Election Protection Coalition is made up of organizations aimed at protecting and expanding access to the ballot box across the state of Georgia. Organizations that make up the coalition are: Georgia Votes, All Voting is Local-Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause and Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Georgia NAACP, The New Georgia Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Georgia Advocates Condemn the Trump Administration’s Latest Attempt to Disrupt the Outcome of the 2020 Census

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

Georgia advocates across the state are angered by the latest move by the Trump Administration to limit census participation of black, brown, and immigrant communities. After granting an extension for Census completion in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration recently instructed the United States Census Bureau to complete the 2020 Census activites a month early, by September 30, 2020.  

“Black, brown and immigrant communities have been ravaged by COVID-19, violent and racist policing and repeated attempts to attack our voting rights. The last thing any elected official should do in this unprecedented time is seek to disrupt an accurate and full census count of our communities — thereby sabotaging our state’s chance to receive federal resources Georgia families desperately depend on. Congress must protect the 2020 Census by including an extension of the Congressional reporting deadline in the next COVID-19 bill,” states Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. 

This past spring, the Trump Administration originally announced an extension for residents to complete their census by October 31, 2020. Currently, only 58.7% of the state’s population has completed the 2020 Census. Ending operations early puts Georgia at risk for losing millions in federal funding over the next 10 years.  

A successful 2020 Census requires following up with those who do not respond on their own.A shorter census timeline will make it impossible to count every household. Door knocking disproportionately covers the historically undercounted communities in Georgia and this move severely limits door-to-door enumeration.

The census is not a partisan issue — an undercount in Georgia fails the whole state.  Make no mistake, as Georgians across the state prepare to vote in the November general election, we are watching very closely the actions of current US Senators to stand up for our communities across the state. Our Senators must act immediately to extend the statutory reporting deadlines for congressional apportionment data, and give the Census Bureau the time it has said it needs to complete the count. 

We implore all Georgians to call Senators Leoffler and Purdue and demand an extension for the completion of census in this great time of need. Now more than ever, it is critically important for all Georgians to fill out the census and help other households to do so, in a safe and socially distanced manner. 

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

(202) 224-3643

131 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

Contact: www.loeffler.senate.gov

Sen. David Perdue

(202) 224-3521

455 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

Contact: www.perdue.senate.gov/connect/email

Signed:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Atlanta Sikh Community

Black Voters Matter GA

Burmese Rohingya Community of Georgia (BRCG)

CAIR Georgia

Coalition of Latino Leaders-CLILA

Common Cause Georgia

Environment Georgia 

Faith in Public Life 

Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)

Georgia Muslim Voter Project (GAMVP)

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Georgia Conservation Voters (GCV)

Georgia Equality

Georgia WAND 

Georgia Stand Up

Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta-Georgia

KOWIN Atlanta GA -Korean Women International Network

Laotian American National Alliance

Latino Community Fund – Georgia

League of Women Voters of Georgia, Inc.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

ProGeorgia

Refugee Women’s Network

Rep GA Institute, Inc. 

Somali American Community Center

Southeast Immigrant Rights Network

Wake Up, Atlanta

Women Watch Afrika, Inc. (WWA)

Georgia Coalition Condemns Secretary Raffensperger for Key Role in Botched Primary

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT: Adam Sweat

asweat@progeorgia.org, 678-951-2172

Georgia Coalition Condemns Secretary Raffensperger for Key Role in Botched Primary 

The Coalition demands Raffensperger take accountability and calls for his resignation ahead of the November General Election

Thursday, June 11, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) Today, the Georgia Votes Coalition released a joint statement responding to widespread delays in voting caused by inadequate and in many cases fully inoperative voting machines, long lines at polls, and voters being turned away from their assigned polling locations during the June 9th Primary. 

The coalition calls on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to accept full accountability for subjecting Georgia voters to chaotic and unacceptable voting conditions and condemned his efforts to deflect blame for voting failures across the state: 

“We are appalled at the utter disarray experienced by Georgians at the polls on June 9th. For far too many, what should have been a simple act of voting turned into a multi-hour saga of standing in long lines and even being turned away at multiple voting locations,” Jeff Graham, Executive Director, Georgia Equality said. “Ever apparent was Secretary Raffensperger’s complete disregard for his responsibility to provide fair and free elections to all Georgians attempting to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

“Access to the ballot box in Georgia has always been precarious for voters under normal primary election circumstances, but to have these issues during a pandemic brought our worst fears to light,” Stephanie Cho, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, emphasized. “Georgians risked their health to cast a vote in this election and deserved the chance to cast their vote without barriers to the booth.”

The coalition implored Secretary Raffensperger to prevent these foreseeable issues, including raising alarms about reductions in voting machines and urging an expansion of Georgia’s vote-by-mail capabilities.  

“The writing has been on the wall for months. Secretary Raffensperger twice postponed the primary election due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and many organizations, our coalition included, made clear the concerns about the ability to carry this election out safely and efficiently. It is baffling that Raffensperger would now express his disbelief that this would happen and attempt to point the blame at local elections officials,” James Woodall, Georgia NAACP State President, added.  


As a result of the botched primary, the coalition demands the Secretary immediately outline the remedial actions being taken to fix these issues before the general election. Because his office cannot be trusted to effectively carry out our elections, we are calling on the Carter Center to send in international observers to ensure that all Georgians have clear access to the ballot box in November. 

Tamieka Atkins, Executive Director of ProGeorgia, noted, “The Secretary’s attempts to point fingers toward hard-working and diligent poll workers and other officials, rather than accept his own department’s failure to prepare, train, and support local counties statewide, are unacceptable and will not stand. Anything less than an apology for those workers and urgent efforts from the Secretary to aid local elections officials is unsuitable.” 

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO),  added, “Furthermore, Georgia voters deserve better than a Secretary of State who places their ability to vote in jeopardy and refuses to own up to his shortcomings in creating yesterday’s debacle. Secretary Raffensperger must resign —  as we prepare for August run-offs and the November general election, voters deserve competent leadership they can believe in, and Secretary Raffensperger has demonstrated that he is not up to the task.”

The coalition will continue pushing for the Secretary’s compliance with outlined demands and working with voters to ensure they are fully informed and able to participate in the democratic process.  

The following Georgia Votes members have issued these demands: 9to5 Georgia, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Faith in Public Life, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Equality, Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Georgia NAACP, Georgia Shift, Georgia Stand Up, Georgia WAND Education Fund, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), McIntosh SEED, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Domestic Workers Alliance – Atlanta, Partnership for Southern Equity, Represent GA Action Network, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Women Watch Afrika. 

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Georgia Votes is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. 

Voting is a Right That All Georgians Should Enjoy, Say Voting Rights Advocates

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Adam Sweat

asweat@progeorgia.org, 678-951-2172

Voting is a Right That All Georgians Should Enjoy, Say Voting Rights Advocates

Atlanta, GA (May 5, 2020) – With voter registration ending on May 11 and early voting slated to begin on May 18, a dozen voting rights and civic organizations held a “Your Vote Matters” Georgia Primary Election Virtual Town Hall last night on Facebook live and ZOOM.  The event was designed to educate Georgia voters on how to protect their votes during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 450 people tuned in to learn about Election Protection and voting-by-mail from representatives of Georgia Votes, ProGeorgia, All Voting is Local, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, GALEO, Georgia NAACP, Common Cause GA, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Southern Poverty Law Center, New Georgia Project and Georgia Stand-Up.

“Despite the fear and uncertainty caused by the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, we want people to understand just how important their votes and voices really are,” said Tamieka Atkins, Executive Director of no ProGeorgia. “Each year, our partners work hard to ensure that the communities we represent are fully informed about and able to participate in the electoral process — 2020 is no different. We are willing to help in any and every way possible to protect everyone’s right.”

Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, reminded listeners that voting by mail is easy, safe and secure, and is not new. However, in the face of COVID-19, it does protect voters from being exposed to the virus. She quoted her organization’s founder, the late Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, saying “voting is a sacred right and a moral obligation.”

Julie Houk, Managing Counsel for Election Protection in the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law explained that Election Protection helps voters 365 days a year to navigate registration and voting challenges, particularly this year in the face of COVID-19. “We have the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline as well as a suite of other language hotlines available to answer voters’ questions on registration, finding polling sites, and address voting problems. We will also have a field program on the ground in Georgia.” She noted that on June 9 the trained volunteers will be driving by the voting sites to monitor for any problems at the polls. 

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, noted that the number of registered Latino voters in Georgia increased by 1900%, from 10,000 in 2003 to more than 200,000 in 2020. And yet, challenges with the citizenship verification process and language accessibility still remain as major barriers to full voting participation by Latinos across the state. 

Elevating the voices of young people, Rev. James Woodall, President of the Georgia NAACP, said that young people are literally able to define what happens in this election,” and that they are “unapologetic in their pursuit of justice, equity, and equality for all people.”

Julie Kegley, Senior Staff Attorney and Program Director for the Georgia Advocacy Office rounded out the discussion representing the concerns of the disability community, noting that accessibility was a leading concern for election participation by the 1 in 4 Americans who are disabled.  She revealed the disturbing reality that in 2016 only 40% of polling locations across the country were accessible, and in Georgia, the trend has been towards closing non-accessible polling places entirely rather than choosing alternate voting sites or upfitting certain locations to make them accessible.

The organizations involved in this event will be actively engaged in voter registration and get out the vote efforts over the coming weeks to ensure a representative turn out during the combined primary elections.  Legal professionals and others who want to volunteer with Election Protection can do so by visiting https://866ourvote.org/volunteer/.

A replay of the May 4th virtual town hall is available on the Georgia Votes Facebook page.

A Spanish-language virtual town hall will be hosted by GALEO on May 11, 2020 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm via Facebook Live at facebook.com/GALEO.org.

About ProGeorgia

ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. ProGeorgia supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of our diverse partner organizations, and develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of our constituencies.

Helen Butler on Safeguarding The Economy

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Staff

Voter advocate Helen Butler, executive director of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, a group that helps lead election protection efforts in Georgia, told Sludge that Congress can safeguard democracy during the pandemic by passing legislation for Election Day voter registration, drop-off ballot locations, and more. 

“That means establishing provisions in the next round of stimulus funding to help states pay for universal distribution of vote-by-mail application forms and vote-by-mail ballots; an additional helpful step would be covering the cost of postage on vote-by-mail ballots,” Butler said.

“Statistics are showing that Black Americans in particular, and members of historically marginalized communities generally—people of color and members of low-income and underserved communities—are at a greater risk of catching and succumbing to COVID-19,” Butler said. “To protect these already vulnerable communities when they strive to exercise their rights to vote, state lawmakers should follow in the footsteps of what we’re doing here in Georgia by making it easier to vote by mail. For those who choose to vote in person, voting stations should be sanitized after each use, and voters should be provided with hand sanitizers, gloves, and masks. Polling locations serving populations at greater risk of contracting the virus should be protected with extra care, including providing the capability to drop ballots in safe, secure drop boxes.”

For full article go to Sludge here.

GoVote Georgia