Yesterday, Brian Kemp engaged in the most clear-cut, unapologetic voter suppression tactics we’ve seen in a long time. 53,000 voters were stripped from the rolls. Incessant robo-calls to Georgian voters falsely accused his opponent, Stacey Abrams, of encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote. He promoted a false narrative of Black Panthers intimidating voters at the polls, using years-old photographs as evidence. Georgians showed up to poll centers that were closed, had run out of ballots, and in some cases even lacked the power cords to get their machines going. Three-hour wait times were the norm, which sent many voters packing.
Brian Kemp is showing the U.S., and anyone thinking about running in 2020, that as long as you’re ruthless enough you can still cheat your way to a win in America.
Brian Kemp unapologetically—and loudly—suppressed, lied to, and discriminated against Georgian voters. His tactics worked so well, even he himself had trouble voting. Given his position as Secretary of State, everyone knew he had the power to tamper with the election, but few thought he’d dare cross his constituents with such outlandish bravado.
The city of Atlanta experienced the brunt of these polling issues. If you think that’s a coincidence, take a look at the map below from CNN. Atlanta is a stronghold for Abrams supporters in this election.
For years, dishonest candidates have chosen subtler approaches to voter suppression for fear of public rejection. From gerrymandering to making registration more difficult to pushing debunked theories of undocumented voters, candidates (often Republicans) have used fear to stop voters from going to the polls.
No matter the tactics, the question remains: If you thought you were going to win fairly, why would you want to suppress the vote?
Brian Kemp is showing the U.S., and anyone thinking about running in 2020, that as long as you’re ruthless enough you can still cheat your way to a win in America. Even if people watch you do it.
But voter suppression wasn’t the only weapon in Kemp’s arsenal. He also fanned the flames of racism with links to images of armed black men at the polls. In Florida, Andrew Gillum — a black man who ran against a white opponent beloved by racists — lost a tight gubernatorial race. Racism and voter suppression aren’t things of the past, they’re alive and well. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to lose hope — as we look forward to 2020, this simply means it’s time to put the gloves back on.
Remember: fear is what they want you to feel. Hope is the antidote.
The Democrats did take control of the House of Representatives, gaining the ability to provide oversight the likes of which President Trump has never seen. The House’s blue wave was a repudiation of our president, and many historically impenetrable Republican incumbents were shaken in close races. These tight races should give us hope. Remember: fear is what they want you to feel. Hope is the antidote.
Instead of allowing Kemp’s strategy to be a blueprint for how to cheat an election win, let it be a warning shot before 2020: We can’t let these tactics affect election day. Laws must be passed, voters must get angry. If you thought Kemp wouldn’t go as far as he did to silence you, you were wrong. Let’s not be wrong in 2020.