In GOP Shutout, Were Dem Voters Shut Out?

Juan Thompson claims that voter suppression tactics were at least partly responsible for the turnout trouble among Democrats last week:

In Georgia … nearly 40,000 new voters mysteriously vanished from the rolls, possibly due to scrubbing by a controversial software system known as Crosscheck. Turnout was only 34%, which is down six percentage points from 2010.

Over the past two years Raphael Warnock, leader of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, worked with the New Georgia Project to register some 80,000 new and mostly black voters. New Georgia Project’s efforts was the state’s largest voter registration drive in 50 years, according to reports. “It’s a fundamental, basic American right to vote”, Warnock told me. Such thinking explains why he was so angry when half of those new voters failed to appear on the rolls this fall. “The Georgia Secretary of State’s office had no explanation at all as to where those voters went”, Warnock explained.

A person in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office declined comment (after alerting me to the fact that “the election’s over”). But earlier this year, that same office accused the New Georgia Project of voter registration fraud. In the end only 50 questionable forms were found. Georgia, it must also be noted, is one of 27 states using the controversial software Crosscheck to weed out supposed voter fraud.

Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice even suggests that new restrictions may have suppressed enough votes to turn some close races:

In the North Carolina Senate race, state house speaker Thom Tillis beat Senator Kay Hagen by a margin of 1.7 percent, or about 48,000 votes. At the same time, North Carolina’s voters were, for the first time, voting under one of the harshest new election laws in the country — a law that Tillis helped to craft. Among other changes, the law slashed seven early voting days, eliminated same-day registration, and prohibited voting outside a voter’s home precinct — all forms of voting especially popular among African Americans. …

Some numbers from recent elections suggest that the magnitude of the problem may not be far from the margin of victory: In the last midterms in 2010, 200,000 voters cast ballots during the early voting days now cut, according to a recent court decision. In 2012, 700,000 voted during those days, including more than a quarter of all African-Americans who voted that year. In 2012, 100,000 North Carolinians, almost a one-third of whom were African-American, voted using same-day registration, which was not available this year. And 7,500 voters cast their ballots outside of their home precincts that year.

Naomi Shavin’s early tally of calls into the Election Protection Hotline also painted a picture of an unusually problematic election:

The hotline handles calls from voters who need to know if they’re registered, find their assigned polling locations, and report difficulties in their attempts to vote. Yesterday, the national hotline had taken over 16,000 calls by 8 p.m., with 3.5 hours to go until polling ended. (By comparison, the hotline received 12,857 calls all day on Election Day in 2010.) Texas, Georgia, and Florida seemed to be experiencing a particularly problematic Election Day. The hotline took roughly 2,000 calls from each of those states. Chris Melody Fields, the manager for legal mobilization and strategic campaigns at Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that the call center received hundreds of calls from Georgia yesterday morning aloneso many, in fact, that calls had to be rerouted to call stations for other states.

Meanwhile, True The Vote’s new fraud-reporting smartphone app only turned up a grand total of 18 reported irregularities and just one claim of voter impersonation in the entire week leading up to the election.