Signs favor record midterm voter turnout despite voter suppression

In Georgia, close to three times the number of people who voted early during the last midterm election have voted early. The numbers went up over the first week of early voting in a state featuring one of the biggest races for governor in the U.S: Democrat Stacey Abrams vs. Republican Brian Kemp.

Abrams would be the first African American female governor elected in history if she wins. Over 482,000 people have voted in Georgia in advance, which included 92,000 on October 19 alone. According to the New York Times, “Vote totals have increased almost 200 percent at the same point since the last gubernatorial election.” Typically, high turnout favors the Democratic Party.

The news regarding record turnout predictions have collided with the news of voter suppression. Election officials in Kansas closed the only polling place in Dodge City. Latinos currently make up 60 percent of Dodge City’s population. Dodge City has only one polling site for 27,000 residents.

An October 9 Associated Press report found the registrations of around 53,000 people — nearly 70 percent of them African Americans — placed in limbo because of some mismatch with driver’s license or Social Security information.

If elected, Abrams would be the first Black female governor in U.S. history.

Tellingly, Abrams is running against an opponent who has had a hand in making voting more difficult in the state. Greg Palast, a voter suppression expert who runs the Palast Investigative Fund, asserts that Kemp is responsible for removing over 300,000 voters from Georgia’s voter rolls over two years. Palast’s team of experts includes statisticians and lawyers analyzing changes and removals from voter rolls across America.

“What’s happening [in the Georgia gubernatorial race] right now might be a defining moment in the brief history of our democracy — it will be the first publicized, well understood and quantifiable rigged and stolen election in the deluge. They will point here and say this was the moment and it happened with little fanfare,” tweeted pollster Cornell Belcher.

A coalition of advocacy groups has launched a lawsuit to block Georgia from enforcing the “exact match” requirement that could block over 50,000 votes in the state.

The Campaign Legal Center and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued in the suit, which was filed in a federal district court on Thursday, that the state’s “exact match” requirement violates the Voting Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The question a week from Election Day is: Will high turnout be able to compensate for attempts at voter suppression?

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and communications strategist. She appears regularly on Roland Martin Unfiltered and can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke.

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