Thursday, June 11, 2020 (ATLANTA, GA) Today, the Georgia Votes Coalition released a joint statement responding to widespread delays in voting caused by inadequate and in many cases fully inoperative voting machines, long lines at polls, and voters being turned away from their assigned polling locations during the June 9th Primary.
The coalition calls on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to accept full accountability for subjecting Georgia voters to chaotic and unacceptable voting conditions and condemned his efforts to deflect blame for voting failures across the state:
“We are appalled at the utter disarray experienced by Georgians at the polls on June 9th. For far too many, what should have been a simple act of voting turned into a multi-hour saga of standing in long lines and even being turned away at multiple voting locations,” Jeff Graham, Executive Director, Georgia Equality said. “Ever apparent was Secretary Raffensperger’s complete disregard for his responsibility to provide fair and free elections to all Georgians attempting to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”
“Access to the ballot box in Georgia has always been precarious for voters under normal primary election circumstances, but to have these issues during a pandemic brought our worst fears to light,” Stephanie Cho, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, emphasized. “Georgians risked their health to cast a vote in this election and deserved the chance to cast their vote without barriers to the booth.”
The coalition implored Secretary Raffensperger to prevent these foreseeable issues, including raising alarms about reductions in voting machines and urging an expansion of Georgia’s vote-by-mail capabilities.
“The writing has been on the wall for months. Secretary Raffensperger twice postponed the primary election due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and many organizations, our coalition included, made clear the concerns about the ability to carry this election out safely and efficiently. It is baffling that Raffensperger would now express his disbelief that this would happen and attempt to point the blame at local elections officials,” James Woodall, Georgia NAACP State President, added.
As a result of the botched primary, the coalition demands the Secretary immediately outline the remedial actions being taken to fix these issues before the general election. Because his office cannot be trusted to effectively carry out our elections, we are calling on the Carter Center to send in international observers to ensure that all Georgians have clear access to the ballot box in November.
Tamieka Atkins, Executive Director of ProGeorgia, noted, “The Secretary’s attempts to point fingers toward hard-working and diligent poll workers and other officials, rather than accept his own department’s failure to prepare, train, and support local counties statewide, are unacceptable and will not stand. Anything less than an apology for those workers and urgent efforts from the Secretary to aid local elections officials is unsuitable.”
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), added, “Furthermore, Georgia voters deserve better than a Secretary of State who places their ability to vote in jeopardy and refuses to own up to his shortcomings in creating yesterday’s debacle. Secretary Raffensperger must resign — as we prepare for August run-offs and the November general election, voters deserve competent leadership they can believe in, and Secretary Raffensperger has demonstrated that he is not up to the task.”
The coalition will continue pushing for the Secretary’s compliance with outlined demands and working with voters to ensure they are fully informed and able to participate in the democratic process.
The following Georgia Votes members have issued these demands: 9to5 Atlanta, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Common Cause GA, Faith in Public Life, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Equality, Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Georgia NAACP, Georgia Shift, Georgia Stand Up, Georgia WAND Education Fund, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), McIntosh SEED, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Domestic Workers Alliance – Atlanta, Partnership for Southern Equity, Represent GA Action Network, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Women Watch Afrika.
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