Georgia Coalition Condemns Secretary Raffensperger for Key Role in Botched Primary

Posted on by Calvin Miller

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.

Election Day Must Remain on May 19th Declare Concerned Citizens and Voting Rights Advocates

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Adam Sweat

asweat@progeorgia.org, 678-951-2172

Election Day Must Remain on May 19th Declare Concerned Citizens and Voting Rights Advocates

Friday, March 27, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – Responding to House Speaker David Ralston’s request that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger move the May 19 election until at least June 23, ProGeorgia and its affiliates issued the following statement:

“On March 14, 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made the wise decision to postpone voting in the March 24, 2020 presidential preference primary until May 19th in the interest of public health because of the emerging COVID-19 crisis.  Since that time, plans have been made by the Secretary of State and county election officials to move forward with the presidential preference primary, the local, county and Congressional primaries, and nonpartisan general elections on May 19th. In fact, vote by mail absentee ballots are already scheduled to be mailed out beginning on March 31 to voters who request them. 

“We are unaware of any evidence establishing that the COVID-19 public health emergency will be over by June 23, 2020 or by any specific time frame this summer that would justify making yet another change in the election calendar. Delaying our primary again – or placing a moving target on elections – until this summer increases the risk that Georgia’s voters may not have their voices heard or their votes fully counted in enough time to participate in the Republican or Democratic National Conventions this summer.

“Moving the May 19th elections to June 23rd as suggested by Speaker Ralston should not be an option at this time because of the lack of evidence that the COVID-19 crisis will be resolved by that time and the substantial likelihood that another change in the election schedule will create confusion among voters and lead to reduced turnout.

 “Therefore, we are calling upon Secretary Raffensperger to proceed with the timely administration of our primary elections on May 19th and to ensure that integrity and transparency are maintained throughout this process.

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.

Voting Rights Advocates Call on Georgia Election Officials to Protect Voters’ Rights in the Wake of Postponing the Presidential Primary Election

Posted on by GoVote Georgia Staff

Monday, March 16, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – ProGeorgia, a group of community-based, civic engagement organizations, called on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s announcement that the presidential primary election would be moved from March 24th to May 19th. 

The groups said: “The Secretary of State’s decision to move the presidential preference primary to May 19th, which was informed by important public health concerns emanating from the spread of COVID-19, has significant ramifications for Georgia voters. Moving an election midstream, when hundreds of thousands of Georgians have already cast ballots during early voting, is not an easy endeavor in the best of circumstances.  In these challenging times, Georgia election officials are going to have to make difficult decisions and change their processes in order to properly implement this unprecedented change. The devil is in the details, and we are concerned that many voters’ rights will be at risk if Georgia election officials fail to address critical issues in implementing such a significant change in the middle of an election period.

“Postponing the election does not diminish the State’s obligation to ensure that voters have adequate accessible and available means to vote.  There are concrete steps that Georgia election officials can take immediately to protect the right to vote in the consolidated May 19th primary election.  We recommend that the State increase the time to request and return vote by mail ballots, work with local election officials to educate voters and poll workers, offer more flexible methods for return and collection of ballots based on the potential for postal service delays and reduced staffing, and extend voter registration opportunities to ensure all eligible voters can participate.

“To ensure a successful and inclusive election, we call on Georgia election officials to employ an open and transparent process that allows all voices to be heard and protects voters’ rights during the May 19th primary.  We are deeply committed to seeing Georgia through a safe and complete primary election process, and welcome the opportunity to work with state and local election officials to ensure that all Georgians have a full and fair chance to exercise their right to vote.”

The following ProGeorgia members have joined ProGeorgia in calling on the Secretary of State to protect voters’ rights: ACLU of Georgia, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Common Cause GA, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters Georgia, Inc, and State Voices.

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.

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