These past two weeks have been great for shareholders in the clipboard industry as an army of volunteers canvassed Georgia’s 6th Congressional District registering voters ahead of the June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The last-minute push for new voters came as a result of a federal lawsuit brought against the state by a coalition of civil rights groups claiming the state violated federal law by closing down registration for the special election too early. The constitutionality of Georgia’s voter registration law is still undecided, but a federal judge issued an order reopening registration for the race for two weeks while the case grinds forward. The lawsuit is another salvo in the endless back-and-forth over voting rights in the state, a battle that has its roots in Georgia’s darkest history.
For much of the 100 years following the Civil War, Georgia’s ruling Democrats used poll taxes, literacy tests and plain old violence to depress voter turnout among its black residents. In 1949, the Georgia Legislature threw the state into chaos when it passed a law backed by Gov. Herman Talmadge requiring periodic re-registration of every voter in a stated attempt to disrupt bloc voting by African Americans. The law was abandoned, not because it was wrong, but because local governments refused to bear the costs of registering all voters before every election.
That history in Georgia and other Deep South states led to a federal requirement that states with a history of racial discrimination get any changes to voting laws approved in advance by the Department of Justice. But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that requirement, noting its its opinion that a lot has changed in the last half century in Georgia and the other pre-clearance states.
Full Article: Voter registration in Georgia’s 6th congressional district.