Abrams Loses Suit Over 2018 Election
Georgia Republicans didn't violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.
AJC (“Judge upholds Georgia election laws on all counts in voting rights case“):
A federal judge delivered a decisive ruling Friday against allies of Democrat Stacey Abrams in their 4-year-old voting rights lawsuit, upholding Georgia election laws on all counts in the case Fair Fight Action filed days after the 2018 election.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ judgment concludes the ambitious case against Georgia’s voter registration and absentee ballot practices after a trial in which voters testified about problems at the polls but few of them were unable to cast a ballot. “Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the Constitution nor the VRA (Voting Rights Act),” Jones wrote in a 288-page order.
The decision followed what is believed to be the longest voting rights trial in the history of the Northern District of Georgia, lasting 21 days with testimony from over 50 witnesses, wrote Jones, a nominee of President Barack Obama.
Jones ruled against Fair Fight on claims over Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration policy, absentee ballot cancellation practices and registration inaccuracies.
The decision in the case, filed in the wake of Abrams’ loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 election for governor, comes five weeks before this year’s Election Day, when Abrams and Kemp are again facing each other.
“From day one, Abrams has used this lawsuit to line her pockets, sow distrust in our democratic institutions, and build her own celebrity,” Kemp said in a tweet. “Judge Jones’ ruling exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals.”
Raffensperger posted this on the Georgia Secretary of State website under the headline “Raffensperger Defeats Stacey Abrams’ ‘Stolen Election’ Claims in Court.”
The lawsuit alleging discriminatory and suppressive election practices in Georgia has been decided in favor of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the State Elections Board on all counts, according to a 288-page order entered by U.S District Court Steve Jones on Friday.
“This is a win for all Georgia election officials who dedicate their lives to safe, secure and accessible elections,” said Raffensperger. “Stolen election and voter suppression claims by Stacey Abrams were nothing but poll-tested rhetoric not supported by facts and evidence.”
Stacey Abrams-founded Fair Fight Action and other plaintiffs filed an initial complaint in November 2018, shortly after Abrams lost her bid to become Georgia’s Governor, alleging illegal and unconstitutional practices had denied the right to vote to thousands of Georgians. The allegations attempted to raise issues regarding Georgia’s absentee ballot procedures, voter registration, and voter list management practices. The court has denied every allegation on each issue.
From the beginning Raffensperger argued that Georgia’s elections systems and procedures were accessible and secure, and acknowledged the challenge in balancing voter access with election integrity while strictly abiding by voting laws and the Constitution. In its decision, the court agreed, noting the impossibility of perfect elections given the millions of voters and tens of thousands of poll workers necessary to run an election, “[a]lthough Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the Voting Rights Act (VRA.)”
Raffensperger said he is grateful the matter is settled, adding “this allows our local election officials to fully focus on the task at hand this year – running a safe, secure, and accessible election.”
“This decision should quiet all those who sow fear and public distrust by denying the results of Georgia’s elections, so that Georgians know they can cast a vote, and that it will be counted in elections that are free and fair.”
It’s worth noting here that Raffensberger, a Republican, stood up firmly against Trump’s claims that he, not Joe Biden, won the race for the state’s Electoral votes. And, indeed, while less forthright, so did Kemp.
As to the outcome of the lawsuit, it is a large, if Pyrrhic, victory for Kemp but likely not going to do much to impact either the outcome of this race or people’s perceptions of the last one.
Abrams achieved national fame after losing that race and using it to champion a message of Republican voter suppression. It was always overblown. But she had a real argument: Kemp and other Republican election officials absolutely tried to stack the deck, purging voters from the rolls in a way that disproportionately impacted Blacks. That they did so within legal parameters—and that Abrams and the Democrats were largely able to counteract these efforts by successfully re-registering these voters and driving massive Black turnout—doesn’t negate the attempt.
As I noted at the time (“Brian Kemp Rigging His Own Election“),
Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee to be the next governor of Georgia, is also its sitting Secretary of State, the official in charge of the process which will determine how the election is conducted, including who gets to vote and which votes get counted. And he’s not even being subtle about parlaying that conflict of interest into a personal advantage.
The bottom line is that, regardless of how one perceives the actions of Harris or Kemp, it’s simply bizarre to have an openly partisan official making countless judgments that may impact the outcome of our democratic processes. Indeed, it makes no sense to have an elected official, period, in such a role. Even if the official’s integrity is above reproach, they simply have inherent conflicts of interest. If they’re partisan officials, they face enormous pressure to rule in favor of their own party. Even as non-partisan officials subject to election, they’d face pressure to rule in a way that satisfied voters regardless of the letter of the law. And, obviously, if they themselves are running for an office under their purview (including simply running for re-election as Secretary of State) any ruling they make that favors them will be under suspicion.
Kemp supporters will, not unreasonably, see this ruling as vindication but it will do nothing to change the feelings of Abrams supporters that the game was rigged. My sense is that he likely won “fair and square” if you only count what happened on election day. But he certainly tried to put his thumb on the scale. The way he did it might have not been in violation of any law. That doesn’t make it right.
Fixed it for you.
And BTW, since does right/wrong have anything to do with this iteration of the GQP? In their view, might makes right!
I don’t think anyone around these parts has been denying that Raffensberger did the right thing.
@Flat Earth Luddite:
It’s unseemly for a candidate to oversee as Sec. of State an election to which he is party, and borderline corrupt. Kemp should have resigned or taken a sabbatical while running for governor.
But, then again, his lack of ethics on that score doesn’t seem to have hurt him with the voters he needs to win. Conversly, Abrams’s refusal to follow Hillary’s lead — concede graciously then cry shenanigans — seems to be haunting and hurting Abrams. So.
Kemp did what he needed to do and it worked. Republicans understand power, Democrats are still getting there.
But not illegal.
But isn’t required to.
In the alternative, the government is only as good as the people who elect it. Having Democrats learn to play Calvinball power games may well be a pyrrhic victory. YMWPV.
For me, there is a far simpler test: When voters have to wait in line for hours, it is not a fair election.
It might be legal, but it is not fair.
The rest of it — early voting, voter registration matches, etc — pale in comparison with the routine disenfranchisement that comes from unequal access to the actual polling booths.
James: “Abrams achieved national fame after losing that race and using it to champion a message of Republican voter suppression. It was always overblown. But she had a real argument: Kemp and other Republican election officials absolutely tried to stack the deck, purging voters from the rolls in a way that disproportionately impacted Blacks. That they did so within legal parameters—and that Abrams and the Democrats were largely able to counteract these efforts by successfully re-registering these voters and driving massive Black turnout—doesn’t negate the attempt.”
Um, your paragraph is contradictory, to me.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Yes, I know. That’s why I wrote “unseemly,” instead of writing “illegal.”
Yes, I know. That’s why I wrote “should have resigned” not “was required to resign.”
Or, it may not be. It may well be a stroke of tactical genius.
To everything there is a time and a season. Good people can and should (and have to) play Calvinball when necessary. The difference is, when good folks do it, it’s not a game or an ego stunt a la Trump and DeFascist. It’s a temporary strategy.
Lincoln, while singing dulcet songs to reconciliation, was still no pushover. A borderline tyrant at times — strategically deployed, in defense of the union and in opposition to the expansion of slavery. This burnishes, not diminishes, his goodness.
Losing while singing kumbaya and coloring within the lines may allow one to play moral martyr, but it does no good for the schookids slaughtered in a hail of bullets, the rape victims facing the possibility of being forced to birth their attackers’ offspring, and the families losing everything to worsening climate disaster. We have serious problems we need to fix right now, and we need to defeat fascism, Trumpism, and Putinism. Right now. We can worry about the niceties later.
For what it’s worth (small value that it may be), I read that to mean “It wasn’t real voter suppression. I mean, not like the Klan burning down the houses of blacks who vote, beatings at polling places, stuff like that. It was only guys taking advantage of a feature in the law to single out and disenfranchise people who would vote against them. I mean, who could oppose THAT?”
So no, not as contradictory as you might think.
Hmmm. You and I hold a similar set of views. But I often find your posts to be a little sharp rhetorically even if I agree in spirit. (I also go over-the-top sometimes.)
To me, it’s curious that you qualified here, as I think there is nothing borderline about it–the process is inherently corrupt.
But not illegal. And chances are good that a sizeable portion of the voters are perfectly cromulent with “protecting the integrity of my vote” by “policing cheaters.” So it’s even democratic (or at least in keeping with the understanding of what the social contract is supposed to do).
Sounds like the old line about military contracting – the scandal isn’t that they do things that are illegal, the scandal is that what they do is legal.
As to Raffensperger’s brave stand, he was in the same position as Pence. Trump wasn’t putting his own ass on the line, but asked them to step forward and do something highly visible and clearly illegal for him. Better than cooperating with Trump, but not exactly profiles in courage.
@Barry: @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ve written about this before so didn’t think I needed to rehash. As I’ve maintained from before the election (see the post linked in the OP) Kemp and company made it harder for Abrams supporters to vote. Their purges of the voter roles of those who hadn’t voted in recent elections, “exact match” policy on re-registration, etc. struck me as dirty pool even if they were legal.
But Abrams went beyond that, frequently claiming, against all evidence that she had actually “won” and that the election was “stolen.” The facts just don’t bear that our. See Glenn Kessler (WaPo), Amy Sherman (Politifact), Ella Lee (USA Today), and numerous other fact checks of her claims.
Again: I think she has a legitimate bitch about having to run against the guy making the election rules. But she overplayed her hand afterwards.
@gVOR08: There was enormous pressure on Raffensperger and other Republican election officials in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona to find votes. Trump called them directly, multiple times, and they were getting death threats for failing to fight for Trump. So, on the one hand, all they did was their sworn duty. On the other, I think we can give them credit for being an important bulwark for the rule of law at a crucial time.