During a new appearance on MSNBC, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams outlined some of the lasting dangers of the current nationwide push by Republicans to impose new restrictions on voting. In Georgia, state Republican leaders have even enacted legislation that includes an allowance for a direct takeover of local election administration by state authorities, giving Republicans in the state legislature an option to potentially force elections to go their way.
Under Georgia’s new rules, the State Election Board — which will now be led by an appointee of the state legislature instead of the Secretary of State (who is chosen by the voters) — is allowed to take over county-level election operations if, in two elections within two years, the state board finds “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence in the administration of the elections.” There was already a mechanism for state authorities to intervene through the court system in the event of local election mismanagement — this is something more.
Obviously, perceptions of “gross negligence” could shift according to the political whims of the individual or individuals making the determination. The idea seems potentially far-too-easily applied as an excuse for political intervention. There’s a lot that conspiratorially minded Republicans might call “gross negligence” that is no such thing.
Abrams pointedly commented as follows:
‘This is a coordinated attack on our democracy by Heritage Action, by the Republican National Committee, by the “Big Lie” and all of its purveyors, and this is their next attempt to undermine our democracy. And so yes, they’re going after the voters, they’re going after the process, and they’re going after the remedy. Because when you get through the entire gauntlet, if the last vestige of support for democracy are our courts, they’re going to try to take power away there.’
Abrams also laid out the path forward, adding as follows:
‘We cannot afford to be distracted by one or two or three attacks. We’ve got to realize that this is a fusillade. And they are attacking every vestige of the system because they want the entire thing to either be so broken that we no longer expect success to be there for voters or that we are so overwhelmed that we can’t focus on the challenges before us.’
Check out Abrams’s remarks below: