Justice Dept Action To Stop GOP Voter Suppression Proposed By Faith Leaders

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A coalition of 13 faith leaders signed a post-primary day letter asking the Justice Department to send election monitors to Georgia for the 2022 general election in connection to concerns about the suppression of votes from marginalized communities. Such monitors — which the Justice Department is legally allowed to send — would also be able to help push back on potential false claims of fraud, the faith leaders noted. Obviously, such false claims have previously broadly plagued Americans, making the issue only more serious.

A letter from these leaders cited what they called “active efforts to minimize and discredit African-American votes in the November general election.” In Georgia, Republican state officials have helped lead the way in the wake of the 2020 elections in imposing restrictive new election rules such as sharp restrictions on the availability of drop boxes for mail-in ballots. Provisions of the Voting Rights Act allow for the election monitors these faith leaders hope to see in Georgia. The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling essentially nullifying certain provisions of that law didn’t eliminate the option for election monitors, who would watch for compliance — or the lack thereof — with federal voting rules and have been used during past elections in various areas.

“We find it no coincidence that the vast majority of these inaccurate calls of voter fraud were targeted specifically within African-American communities… While baseless, flawed and ultimately incorrect, it is fair to believe that this fall, these efforts will continue. We assert that having federal election monitors on-site will allow consistent tracking of the facts and ensure that the truth can quickly counter any false narrative,” the letter from Georgia faith leaders said. Rev. Timothy McDonald III, one of the Georgian faith figures who signed onto the letter, said monitors apparently associated with his cause were present at polling places for the primary, and “no problems” were “experienced,” but “early voting is different than a general election.”

The coalition behind the push includes figures from Georgia A.M.E., Christian Methodist, and Baptist churches, alongside other faith traditions. The group planned to hold a Wednesday press availability in Atlanta and targeted their push to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke and Georgia U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University assistant law professor, told The New York Times: “Under the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice has an extraordinary amount of latitude to send these monitors to jurisdictions that they feel require some kind of oversight.”

Last year, the Justice Department sued Georgia state officials over the wide-ranging elections law adopted by Republican leaders there. According to the Justice Department, their lawsuit challenged provisions of that law including “a provision banning government entities from distributing unsolicited absentee ballot applications; the imposition of costly and onerous fines on civic organizations, churches and advocacy groups that distribute follow-up absentee ballot applications; the shortening of the deadline to request absentee ballots to 11 days before Election Day… significant limitations on counties’ use of absentee ballot drop boxes; the prohibition on efforts by churches and civic groups to provide food or water to persons waiting in long lines to vote,” and more.