• Gay BlogAds

  • Gay News Watch

  • Chris Tweets

  • « The Week on GNW (Oct. 18-25) | Main | Obama on privacy and the right to marry »

    October 30, 2008

    Suppressing the vote in Georgia

    Posted by: Andoni

    Long_linesI'm part of a team that drives people to the polls to vote early in Georgia.

    Consider the following three early voting polling places in metro Atlanta: the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta, the Dekalb County Fire Headquarters in Tucker, and the Cobb County Galleria in suburban Atlanta.

    In Atlanta, the lines took 4 to 6 hours to reach the voting booth. These people were majority African American voters. In Dekalb County where the population is very diverse and the lines ran about 1/3 African Americans, the wait to vote was 2 and 1/2 hours.

    And finally in the cushy Cobb County suburbs, with mainly white Republicans, there was not wait.

    Was the wait at these respective places proportional to the turnout? NO, the wait was proportional to the equipment at these respective sites.

    Here is a rundown on the equipment. In Atlanta, there were only 2 computers to check people in to determine if they indeed were registered to vote. Because of this, half the voting machines stood empty at any given time because the bottleneck was at the two computers. The Dekalb County site had three computers and 16 voting machines. Again, half the voting machines were unused at any give moment because of the bottleneck at the computers.

    However, good old boy pre-dominantly Republican Cobb County had 10 computers to check people in, and 20 voting machines, 100% in use, leaving almost no wait to vote.

    Why does this all matter? Because many, many of the people I drove to the polls in Atlanta waited an hour or two and gave up. They left without voting. Will they return tomorrow to try again? I don't know? Will they show up on the real election day, Tuesday, after their bad experience with early voting? We'll see.

    The equipment disparity I describe is not illegal under state law. However, I would argue that it is unfair, and if US observers saw this in a foreign country whose elections they were monitoring, they would call that country on it.

    Voting is a right and a duty. Anything the state does to make it easy for some citizens to vote but harder for others is voter suppression as far as I'm concerned. It is wrong and it should be illegal. Oh, and did I mention that the state government is run by Republicans?

    Shouldn't the goal in this country be to make it conducive for everyone who has the right to vote to vote without having to stand in line most of the day?

    We'll see if this trend continues on actual election day.



    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    1. Tim on Oct 31, 2008 9:23:44 AM:

      Than why don't you sell one of your homes and use the proceeds to buy computers for the city? Seems like an easy enough solution.

      Did you ever even consider that?

    1. Andoni on Oct 31, 2008 9:27:45 AM:

      Surely you must have meant McCain, not me. I only have one home. I've been out of the multiple home biz for close to 20 years, thank God.

    1. Tim C on Oct 31, 2008 1:57:58 PM:

      Conspiracy? Ha. Normal Atlanta city government incompetence? You betcha.

    1. Shane from PV on Oct 31, 2008 7:02:09 PM:

      When you're a Democrat, racism is the answer to every problem. I guess the only good thing to come out of an Obama victory will be that the left won't be able to use bully people with that charge anymore!

      November 4, 2008 - the day racism ended in America...

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Nov 1, 2008 4:04:26 PM:

      And here's the latest on what the Obama campaign and its workers are doing at the polls.

      Two Obama campaign workers suspected of voting here illegally have withdrawn their ballots, prompting the Columbiana County elections board to drop its investigation.

      Molly Thompson and Peter Grant Jr., both of whom are from other states, submitted separate letters Friday asking the elections board to withdraw the registration and ballots they cast on Sept. 30.

      It gets better.

      At issue is Ohio's election law that allows new county residents to register to vote up to 30 days prior to an election. However, the law denies residency status for voting if the applicant came into the county "for temporary purposes only, without the intention of making such county the permanent place of abode."

      Thompson, 30, of Charlotte, N.C., and Grant, 23, of Bellevue, Wash., both live with local "host" families while in the county working for the Obama campaign. On their voter registration applications they listed the host families as their new residence.......

      The local host for Thompson is Bea Delpapa, of state Route 517, Lisbon, who serves as the presiding poll worker at her precinct. Delpapa wrote a letter to editor that ran several weeks ago criticizing Johnson for suggesting the Obama campaign was engaging in voter fraud, which he now finds ironic considering what has occurred.

      Of course, considering they were staying with a host family, one would think it would be patently obvious that they weren't qualified as residents. But of course, the Obama supporter who was hosting them has an excuse.

      Delpapa said she didn't know Thompson had even voted locally until the story hit the local papers earlier in the week after a complaint was filed by Nancy Cope, secretary of the county Republican Party.

      Secondly, Delpapa said she was unaware of the law because it has never been brought up by elections board staff during any of the poll worker training sessions she attended.

      Right. She didn't know that people who were only temporarily residing in Ohio with no intention to stay qualify to vote. After all, it's not like the other....well, no, NO other state allows temporary residents with no intention of staying and living in "host housing" to vote in local elections.

      And here's the howler.

      "My function as presiding judge (of poll workers) is to make sure we have a transparent and fair election, and there isn't an election judge more fair or conscientious than me," she said.

      If you define "fair and conscientious" as "supporting rampant Obama campaign voter fraud", that makes sense.

    1. Charlie on Nov 1, 2008 5:04:52 PM:

      Right. She didn't know that people who were only temporarily residing in Ohio with no intention to stay qualify to vote. After all, it's not like the other....well, no, NO other state allows temporary residents with no intention of staying and living in "host housing" to vote in local elections.

      Then why are there always such strong voter registration drives on college campuses? My goodness, I should retroactively withdraw my 1992 ballot because I knew I didn't intend to stay in Ithaca. Everyone I knew there did the same, and nobody told us we were committing fraud. And no, we didn't ALL vote for Clinton. Regardless of what some people would have you believe, not all "east coast ivy league" types skew liberal.

      If you define "fair and conscientious" as "supporting rampant Obama campaign voter fraud", that makes sense.

      Well. I'm pretty certain I don't agree with Andoni's assertion of a racist conspiracy blocking blacks (and therefore Obama voters) from the polls, but do you really think TWO bad ballots warrants the use of the word "rampant?" C'mon. Your cynicism is distressing.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Nov 2, 2008 6:46:48 PM:

      Then why are there always such strong voter registration drives on college campuses?

      Mainly because there's a big difference between staying in one spot for four years versus thirty days.

      C'mon. Your cynicism is distressing.

      It's a bit more than cynicism.

    1. JosephB on Nov 3, 2008 7:58:57 AM:

      Before I begin, I should point out I am a registered Democrat, still undecided on a candidate. I try not to be disrespectful of others opinions. I also believe we should educate ourselves to have a correct basis for our opinions. Here are a few facts and my opinion based on those facts.

      Your conclusion that somehow the Republican government of Georgia is purposely and illegally causing voter suppression is poorly thought out, misinformed and irresponsible.

      The number of machines and poll workers that a State provides at polling locations is and can only logically be based on the turnout from previous elections as well as taking into consideration new voter registrations.

      What do the numbers say? You mention 3 locations; 15 computers to verify registrations and 36 voting machines, therefore I will use those as being totals for the entire state.

      In 2007, it is estimated that 91% of the Georgia population is white. So, 13.65 verifying computers and 32.76 voting machines should be in predominately white voting areas.

      Using your analysis and insinuations, it would appear as though Georgia is trying to suppress the white vote. It should also be pointed out that DeKalb county has more than 5 times the number of voting machines compared to number of computers to register voters. The 'Good ole Boy Republican' Cobb county is hindered with only twice as many.

      This could probably be broken down even further based on the number of registered voters per voting machine and my guess is that the results are the same. The African American vote is not being suppressed anymore than the white vote due to improper distribution of voting machines and or verification computers.

      The internet is a powerful thing giving a voice to many who otherwise would not have it. For those wanting to make a difference, you must also use the tools and information the internet provides in order to determine what is fact and what is propaganda or misstatements of fact.

      It is probably impossible to get it right 100% of the time, but the more times you get it wrong, the less your voice will make the difference it seeks.

    1. Andoni on Nov 3, 2008 8:37:16 AM:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, JosephB. However, here are 3 facts that derail your line of reasoning:
      1. Georgia's black population is 30%. This is not the 91% white figure you cite. See:

      2. You say "The number of machines and poll workers that a State provides at polling locations is and can only logically be based on the turnout from previous elections." This was not done using the 2008 primary turnout which set new records for voting both by all voters and especially African American voters. Furthermore, the distribution of African American voters is not uniform throughout the state.

      3. Most damning however, is the fact that early voting has been going on for more than a month with the obvious backups and inequalities in the distribution of equipment. Repeated pleas by community leaders and impartial voting groups to the secretary of state to make mid-course adjustments to alleviate the problem went unheeded. The secretary of state even refused to talk to the media about it. Once the problems revealed themselves one would think that a secretary of state that really wanted everyone to be able to vote, would have made some adjustments to fix the situation. Otherwise you have to assume that the goal was to slow down the voting in some sectors.

      As Rachel Maddow put it in her commentary yesterday, this is the new "poll tax."

    1. JosephB on Nov 3, 2008 10:52:38 AM:

      1. Thanks for pointing out the error. I will find the data I started using which had the 91% number. That data only included eligible voters, ie 18 and older. I switched to raw data from the US Census, http://www.census.gov/popest/states/asrh/SC-EST2007-04.html . During switching, I missed the change in percentage. But, even with a white population of only 67%, thats still 10.05 machines.

      2. I guess i should have said previous election cycle, 2004. The Primaries have historically shown greater voter turnout than on election day. There is no way for a state to analyze voter turnout in just a matter of a couple months, trying to shift through allegations of voter fraud etc. Using 2004 numbers is probably the best way for a state to protect itself legally. I believe Georgia's Supreme Court just ruled on a case involving machines at polling places against and said the distribution of machines was done fairly. I realize the distribution of African Americans is not uniform. That's why I pointed out that you only mention a certain number of locations and their machines. You used those facts to suggest voter suppression. Not knowing the exact numbers, I could only go on your insinuation that Cobb was largely white and Dekalb largly black.

      3. New voting machines take some time to purchase and aquire. I am not denying that a lot of states may be ill prepared for the record turnout expected. But i fail to see any devious plan to suppress the votes of any race. With the number of new registrations, are the backups caused due to the large number of invalid registrations submitted by ACORN, cause holdups at the verifications computers? Is the hold up due to instructing new registrants? I would again point out that Dekalb has 5 times the voting machines versus Cobb with twice.

      States ill prepared, yes. Voters ill prepared, possibly. Voters fraud, possibly. Poll workers not well trained, possibly. Voter suppression, I don't see it yet.

      Voter suppression in the primaries...now that's a whole different game.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Nov 3, 2008 12:58:11 PM:

      Furthermore, what Andoni has conveniently left out of the entire equation is that the purchase of voting machines and supporting computers is decided at the county level, not at the state level. The secretary of state only certifies and sets standards; counties are free to purchase what machines they want, as long as they're certified by the state, and however many registration computers they want.

      Of course, Andoni also won't mention what party is in charge of Fulton and DeKalb counties. That would expose the fact that any "voter suppression" is at the hands of the Democrats like himself who made the decision on how many machines and computers to have.

    1. Andoni on Nov 3, 2008 1:32:21 PM:

      ND30, you didn't read carefully. The problem was not with the voting machines. There were enough of them. Half were not being used at any given moment.

      The problem was with the computers that connected with the secretary of state's office. This was early voting at centralized locations, not precinct level voting. There was no voter list or print out of voters as they have at each precinct on election day. There were only a few sites in each county where people could vote.

      In order to verify that each person wanting to vote was indeed registered and eligible, there had to be a computer check with the central database at the secretary of state's office.

      When I first wrote the post, the effected counties were blaming the SOS office for the problems. Now the SOS office is blaming the counties in return. So in reality, it is hard to be certain where the fault is. However, it is the responsibility of the SOS to make sure the elections run smoothly in GA and that is not what happened.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Nov 3, 2008 4:11:18 PM:

      So in reality, it is hard to be certain where the fault is.

      Oh, you were more than certain before, Andoni.

      You accused the Republicans of voter suppression. You claimed that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote. You accused people in Cobb County of being racists. In fact, you titled this very post "Suppressing the vote in Georgia".

      Now why don't you explain why Fulton County and DeKalb county didn't purchase enough registration computers? Better yet, why don't you tell us what party controls both counties?

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    © Citizen Crain - All Rights Reserved | Design by E.Webscapes Design Studio | Powered by: TypePad