Happy Monday! Click here to catch up on last week’s news stories. Happy reading 🙂
Monday, April 11, 2022
Georgia voting rights trial to begin after years of heated elections
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (by Mark Niesse)
One of the most prominent voting rights cases in years is going to trial Monday, testing allegations that Georgia’s election policies illegally obstructed voters from casting their ballots. The long-awaited trial will highlight complaints about voting problems in the 2018 and 2020 elections, bringing a parade of voters and election officials to federal court to testify under oath about their experiences. The case has been building for 3 1/2 years since it was filed by Fair Fight Action, a group Democrat Stacey Abrams founded following her loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 election for governor. Now it will be decided by a judge as both candidates are running again. The lawsuit targets Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration rules and inconsistent absentee ballot cancellation practices, which the plaintiffs say created difficulties that disproportionately affected Black voters.
Kappa Koffehouse Town Hall Forum on impact of Georgia Voting Law held Mar. 29
Rockdale Newton Citizen (by Dr. Robert H. Hughes Polemarch)
[…] Presentations and perspectives were shared by Cynthia Willingham, supervisor of elections for the Rockdale County Board of Elections & Voter Registration Office; Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections; and Hillary Holley, organizing director of Fair Fight Action. The audience included numerous county elected officials who were present to listen to and interact with those in attendance. “Elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and it is important that we have as great of participation in the voting process as we can,” said Johnson. “2020 was an example of when we got enormous voter participation. In Newton County, we have now 85,000 registered voters and 22 precincts.”
With Biden’s voting rights push stalled, Georgia activists regroup
The Washington Post (by Matthew Brown)
For months, Georgia voting rights advocates and faith leaders warned that a new state law would drastically suppress minority turnout and pleaded with Congress to enshrine protections. But with no signs of progress in President Biden’s push for voting rights bills, those groups are now confronting a new challenge: How to turn out voters despite the restrictions passed by state Republicans in the wake of Biden’s upset win there. On Tuesday, more than a dozen voting rights groups, spearheaded by faith leaders, will gather at The King Center in Atlanta to rally their organizations in the run-up to the midterms — and plot their strategy to outmaneuver new regulations they see as limiting access to the ballot. The groups, which are mostly nonpartisan but also aligned with Democratic efforts, aim to show GOP leaders that their work will continue in the face of the law.
Accusations begin to fly in special election for Stonecrest mayor
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (by Zachary Hansen)
Four candidates are running to become the next mayor of Stonecrest, but three of them teamed up Thursday morning to allege that their opponent is abusing her position as a recent councilmember. At a Thursday news conference, Diane Adoma and Kirby Frazier accused Jazzmin Cobble, who resigned her council seat last month to enter the mayoral race, of continuing to use her city email and connections to benefit her campaign. Charles Hill Sr., who is also running for mayor, was not able to attend the news conference but was listed in solidarity with Adoma and Frazier. Cobble denies the accusations and said the three candidates are “pulling at straws” to find a scandal. Adoma, the primary speaker Thursday, said she was confident that Cobble is being given an unfair benefit by city leaders.
Why Georgia Republicans are putting gun measures at heart of 2022 message
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (by Greg Bluestein)
When Brian Kemp ran for the state’s top job four years ago, his support for “permitless carry” and shotgun-wielding ads helped him emerge from a crowded Republican primary. Now, he’s again turning to a gun rights expansion to separate him from another GOP rival. The governor is set to sign legislation Tuesday to let Georgians carry concealed handguns without a permit, marking perhaps the biggest rollback of firearms restrictions since a 2014 law that allowed residents to legally carry firearms in some schools, bars and churches. The measure, Senate Bill 319, is one of many engineered by Kemp and his GOP allies in part to bolster his chances in the May 24 primary against a tough Republican opponent.
Georgia rolls back precautions two years after COVID-19 shut down, leaving some vulnerable
Georgia Recorder (by Clay Votek)
State Sen. Donzella James’ voice isn’t as strong as it used to be. In January 2021, James tested positive for COVID-19. She thought it was just her chronic bronchitis, but the next morning, she found herself in a crowded emergency room. After subsequent bouts of pneumonia and blood clots, she finally left the hospital in May. James, an Atlanta Democrat, remains vigilant about COVID-19 today. “I saw people every day dying all around me,” she said. “I am concerned because I know far well what that COVID can do to you.”Just over two years ago, on April 3, 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp established a statewide shelter-in-place order, which he lifted a month later. Today, cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the state are all relatively low by pandemic standards, according to the latest figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The majority of Georgia counties have low rates of community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Jackson will join more diverse and conservative high court
AP News (by Mark Sherman and Mary Clare)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will join a Supreme Court that is both more diverse than ever and more conservative than it’s been since the 1930s. She’s likely to be on the losing end of a bunch of important cases, including examinations of the role of race in college admissions and voting rights that the high court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, will take up next term. Jackson, 51, is the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court following Thursday’s 53-47 vote by the Senate. She won’t join the court for several months, until Justice Stephen Breyer retires once the court wraps up its work for the summer — including its verdict on whether to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights.
Biden to nominate new ATF director, release ghost gun rule
AP News (by Michael Balsamo)
President Joe Biden is nominating an Obama-era U.S. attorney to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as his administration unveils its formal rule to rein in ghost guns, privately made firearms without serial numbers that are increasingly cropping up at crime scenes, six people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Biden is expected to make the announcement nominating Steve Dettlebach, who served as a U.S. attorney in Ohio from 2009 to 2016, at the White House on Monday, the people said. They were not authorized to discuss the nomination publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The administration will also release the finalized version of its ghost gun rule, which comes as the White House and the Justice Department have been under growing pressure to crack down on gun deaths and violent crime in the U.S.
Voter Suppression Grew Up From the Soil of Emancipation Itself
TIME (by Kris Manjapra)
By April of 1870—152 years ago this month—Secretary of State Hamilton Fish had certified the 15th Amendment. After almost a century of the American experiment in democracy, it finally granted African American men the right to vote. First passed by Congress in February, the Amendment was still subjected to a difficult 2-month ratification process by a number of states. Seven states rejected the amendment (a mix of former Border states, Southern states, Western States, and New Jersey, with its notoriously “long emancipation”), but were ultimately forced to ratify it. Meanwhile, voting rights for Black women would take almost another century to arrive. […] Yet today there are more than 550 bills introduced through 2022 to restrict voting access across at least 40 states, and the Senate’s recent failure to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Advancement Act to defend against this assault, point to the urgency of the Fifteenth Amendment’s unfinished legacy of struggle for multi-racial democracy.
Judge strikes down parts of Florida election law; cites race
AP News (by Brendan Farrington )
A federal judge struck down portions of a Florida election law passed last year, saying in a ruling Thursday that the Republican-led government was using subtle tactics to suppress Black voters. The law tightened rules on mailed ballots, drop boxes and other popular election methods — changes that made it more difficult for Black voters who, overall, have more socioeconomic disadvantages than white voters, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in his ruling. “For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents,” Walker wrote. Given that history, he said, some future election law changes should be subject to court approval. Florida’s Republican-led legislature joined several others around the country in passing election reforms after Republican former President Donald Trump made unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Packing the Vote: City council in Florida racially gerrymanders districts despite Black voter outrage
Southern Poverty Law Center (by Rhonda Sonneberg)
In the face of fierce Black community opposition during months of public hearings, the city council in Jacksonville, Florida, voted 17-1 on March 22 to pass a voting district map with racially gerrymandered districts. The new map packs most of the city’s Black voters into districts 7, 8, 9 and 10, classifying these voters because of their race and weakening their ability to affect elections in other districts. Further, it fails to reflect the city’s changing demographics. According to the 2020 census, Jacksonville’s nearly 1 million residents had equal percentages of non-Latinx white people and people of color. In wider Duval County, which is filled almost completely by the city — the country’s 13th largest — white residents slid into the minority.
Have a marvelous Monday!