Cuomo himself threw out an allegation at the start of the segment, saying, “Here is the tragedy of the travesty that the president has created on this issue: We have real voter suppression concerns. One is playing out now [in Georgia].” Cuomo then turned to Georgia’s statewide voting implementation manager Gabriel Sterling: “People are concerned that what they saw today is a reflection of what they’ve seen before, which is disenfranchisement of minorities who tend to vote Democrat. Your take?”
“Well, the reality of what you’re seeing in Georgia today is a function of the COVID situation in large part.” The Georgia voting official then explained that many polling places were lost as host sites pulled out last minute due to the pandemic.
Sterling then specifically cited Fulton County, which “collapsed many of those locations into mega precincts” despite the advice of state election officials who told them “this is not a good idea, you need to find other alternative locations.”
As for who is in charge of making those decisions, Sterling noted, “They are made at the county level and the state has zero ability to tell them not do that.”
Sterling continued to push back against claims of voter suppression, arguing that the long lines and delays were also due to an influx of new poll workers who unfortunately were not trained well by officials in some counties. The average age of poll workers in the state had been 70 and many of those people opted not to work this time around over health concerns.
During the 2018 gubernatorial election, the media levied charges of voter suppression based on the following:
- The fact that 53,000 voter registrations have been deemed “pending” by Georgia, and most (70%) are for African-American and other minority voters.
- Georgia purging 107,000 inactive voters from their voter rolls in July 2017 (and most inactive voters were minorities), though it’s also charged that 700,000 voters were purged over a two year period.
However, neither of those events prevented anyone from voting in Georgia’s elections.
A “pending” registration in Georgia doesn’t mean one is unable to vote. To give some background information, Georgia requires prospective voters to submit either a driver’s license or Social Security number in order to register to vote. Sometimes there are discrepancies when information from a driver’s license or SSN is cross-checked against the relevant database (such as my driver’s license listing my name as “Matt” and the government database its cross-referenced against listing my name as “Matthew”).
These are minor discrepancies that are inevitable, hence why voters with “pending” registrations have an entire 26 months to fix the errors – and can still vote as long as they present a driver’s license or valid photo ID at the polls. In other words, if they could register to vote (without an SSN), they can vote.
What of those inactive voters purged? In Georgia, people who don’t vote for a period of three years are marked “inactive,” but are immediately notified that they’ve been designated as such. All those purged from the registrations were notified via a prepaid return postcard telling them that they were inactive, and can become active again by returning that very postcard with the appropriate information. It’s hard to allege disenfranchisement when those supposedly behind it are also making it possible for one to re-register to vote for free in a process that shouldn’t take more than five minutes. What’s the liberal counter-argument, that people can’t afford pens to fill out their postcards?
And did I mention that Georgia’s “use it or lose it” policy towards voting stems from legislation in the 1990s that was passed by Georgia Democrats?