Sunday, April 26, 2020

Former Georgia Governor Candidate Stacey Abrams Needs to Be Fact-Checked on Bogus Stolen Election Claim

Fact checkers have been all over the lies of Donald Trump (and rightfully so) since he was elected President in 2016.   One such lie often repeated is the claim that millions of "illegals" voted for Hillary Clinton in the election that year, which is why she ended up winning the popular vote by 2.1 million.  Supposedly this was an organized effort by Democrats, focused primarily in California.   Given the nature of the Electoral College, such an effort in the Golden State makes no sense.  Hillary Clinton was going to win California anyway and padding the popular vote there gains nothing.

2018 Georgia Governor Candidate Stacey Abrams
The media has consistently pointed out that there is no evidence to support Trump's millions of "illegals" voting claim. Correct.  But when it comes to the claims made by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams that her opponent, now Governor Brian Kemp, suppressed the vote, causing her to lose the 2018 election, fact-checkers are nowhere to be found.  The media simply repeats her claims without any fact-checking whatsoever.

To recap, Stacey Abrams, former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, ran for governor in 2018 against Brian Kemp who was then Georgia Secretary of State.   Abrams was very popular with the mainstream media, and her efforts earned her considerable free coverage of her campaign. However, Abrams lost to Kemp by 1.4% of the vote, very close but well outside the margin which would have triggered an automatic recount.  Abrams refused to concede the race and instead has since the election peddled the narrative that were it not for "vote suppression" by Kemp in his role as Secretary of State, she would have been elected Governor of Georgia.

Abrams "voter suppression" fairy tale consists of three parts:  the purge of non-voters from the voting registration lists, the exact match requirement which made some new registrations "pending," and the long lines at polls created by consolidation of precincts.   The National Review explains the purge Kemp did:
The claims of voter suppression rest primarily on the fact that as Georgia secretary of state, Kemp enforced a statute passed by a Democratic-majority legislature and signed by a Democratic governor in 1997. It required the voting rolls to be periodically purged to remove names of voters who were dead, or who had moved away or were incarcerated. Under this law, 600,000 names of people who hadn’t voted in the last three elections were removed from the rolls in 2017 by Kemp’s office.  
Those who were removed got prior notification in the mail about the impending purge, and they were given a menu of options to retain their registration. Moreover, it took four years to complete the process by which a name was removed. The reason so many names were taken off in 2017 was that a lawsuit by the Georgia NAACP had delayed the routine enforcement of the law for years before the organization eventually lost in the U.S. Supreme Court.  
If you assume that most of the 600,000 were Democrats who were denied the right to vote — rather than voters who were deceased or who had moved or been jailed — that gives credibility to Abrams’s story. But there aren’t many people stepping forward since November 2018 to say they were wrongfully removed from the rolls, let alone the tens or hundreds of thousands necessary to substantiate Abrams’s claim that the election was stolen.
As a precinct committeeman, ward chairman and candidate, I've worked with voting histories numerous times and watched how purges to clean up voter registration rolls work.  One thing I know extremely well is that if a voter has not voted in a single election during a four year period, there is about a 99% chance that voter is deceased or has moved from the precinct.  In fact, the entire time I worked in the precincts, I do not recall a single voter who had not cast a ballot in the precinct during a four year election cycle, showing up to vote in that precinct. 

As a result of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter Law), states now have to attempt to notify those non-voters before they are purged from the voter lists.  The difficulty in purging these voters who have died or moved has resulted in grossly bloated voter registration lists.  I know this very well because I have documented how Indiana has scores of counties with voter registration rates at 90% or more, some even higher than 100%.  This includes Marion County (Indianapolis) which at one time had a 105% registration rate. 

The notion that Stacey Abrams could have made up her 50,000 vote deficit from this pool of 600,000 people who had not voted a single time in at least four years and as many as ten years or more is pie in the sky stuff.  If she got a net 60 vote bump from that pool of purged voters I would be surprised. 

Indeed, contrary to Abrams claims of tens of thousands of disenfranchised voters, nary a Georgia voter has come forward and said they were not able to cast a ballot during the 2018 election.  In fact, contrary to Abrams' "voter suppression" claim, the 2018 Georgia election featured record turnout.  In 2014, 2.5 million Georgians voted for Governor.  In 2018, that rose to 3.9 million, nearly matching the Georgia vote total for President in 2016.  This increased turnout, included a 60% turnout among African-Americans in 2018, an incredibly huge mid-term turnout that even exceeded black turnout in the 2016 election with a hotly contested presidential race on the ticket.

A second complaint is that 53,000 voter registrations submitted by Abram's voter registration organization were put on hold for failing to have an exact match of the data the Secretary of State's Office already had on file of those individuals.  Once again, Kemp was just enforcing an existing law.  All Kemp's action did was make the registrations "pending" which would then become "active" when the voter actually showed up at the polls and presented a photo ID.  Clearly, considering the turnout numbers, there is no reason to believe Kemp's actions actually blocked these voters from casting ballots.

A third complaint is that Secretary of State eliminated over 200 voting locations which resulted in long lines that caused Democrats to turn away.  That argument also doesn't hold water upon examination:
The other argument that purportedly backs up the stolen-election claim is that lengthy lines caused by the closing of 212 precincts in the state since 2012 deterred Georgia voters from turning out. But Kemp had nothing to do with that, since all decisions on consolidating voting stations were made by county officials. Which means if there were fewer precincts and longer lines in Democratic-majority counties in Georgia, it was almost certainly due to the decisions made by local Democrats, not Kemp or a national GOP conspiracy.
Abrams performance as Georgia gubernatorial candidate was impressive.  She could have built on that performance and easily been a top candidate, if not the favorite for one of the two Georgia U.S. Senate seats on the ballot in 2020.  But Stacey Abrams considers herself too important to be a U.S. Senator from Georgia.  She should be Vice President!  Despite having a political resume more limited than the often derided Republican VP nominee, Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, Abrams is on a media tour campaigning to be Joe Biden's running mate.

Georgia Democrats should be furious at Stacey Abrams who turned her back on them.

Do not get me wrong.  I am certainly no fan of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.  His blind support for all things Trump is disgusting and his leadership during the Covid-19 crisis has been astonishingly bad.  But the notion Kemp stole the election from Stacey Abrams in 2018 is utter nonsense.  Abrams needs to be called out for misrepresenting the truth about that election.


Anonymous said...

The only thing I see Stacey Abrams for is this shrill that screams "RACIST!" every time she opens her mouth. If she would only quit playing that race card off the bottom of the deck.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 7:46, Abrams has already said publicly she would have "concerns" if Biden didn't pick a black woman running mate. Nothing screams "pick me" more than issuing a veiled threat of consequences if you're not picked. I'm not sure Abrams has a future in politics after leaving the GA Dems out to dry in those two Senate races. Running for Governor again in 2022 is really her only option left.

Mark Ogden said...

Haven't heard much about the "stolen election" here lately, but you make some good points. She came close, but lost fair and square. Not sure how she became the face of the Democrats in GA. She hasn't really won anything, and with both Senate positions on the ballot this Nov, she would have been in a great position if she'd chosen to run. Hope Biden doesn't pick her for VP. There are much better choices.