A nice bookend to Democratic messaging on Florida, which holds that there’s nothing suspicious going on despite a history of lawbreaking by Broward County election officials and now the involvement of federal prosecutors in examining altered election documents. No matter how much smoke there is, rest assured there’s no fire.
Georgia, though? Ablaze. All the 2020 Democratic hopefuls seem to think so, coincidentally. There’s Sherrod Brown…
Sen. Sherrod Brown, fanning the racial flames at the National Action Network conference: "If Stacey Abrams doesn’t win in Georgia, they stole it. It's clear, I say that publicly. It's clear." pic.twitter.com/PombZetV19
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 14, 2018
…and Cory Booker…
Booker, who was not up for reelection this year but is a potential presidential candidate in 2020, noted that he was commenting “from a perspective where I have not been in the weeds,” but he said, based on what he’s seen, he is convinced that Abrams isn’t getting a fair shot.
“I think that Stacey Abrams’s election is being stolen from her, using what I think are insidious measures to disenfranchise certain groups of people,” said Booker.
…and, uh, Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Democrat Stacey Abrams should have already won the Georgia’s gubernatorial race, which is locked in an ongoing vote count.
“If she had a fair election, she already would have won,” Mrs. Clinton said, according to The Statesman.
The Free Beacon has a long memory and remembers Brown’s response to Trump after the 2016 election, when POTUS started fantasizing about millions of illegal voters having cost him the popular vote: “Your choice to spread false conspiracy theories and to claim millions of fraudulent votes is not only unbecoming of a gracious winner, it is downright dangerous to our democracy… Peddling this nonsense and stoking these fears undermine our system of government –and your own election, damaging the public’s faith in our democracy.” Damaging the public’s faith in democracy is the new hotness in 2018, though, with Georgia the ripest opportunity for lefties. Not only was GOP Gov.-elect Brian Kemp the Georgia secretary of state, placing him in charge of elections, but Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams was the first black woman ever nominated for governor by a major party. Claiming that Kemp stole the election from a rising party star who’s a member of not one but two core Democratic groups is an unusually efficient way to ingratiate oneself to angry national primary voters.
Problem is, wrote Michael Warren a few weeks ago, the evidence of “voter purges” supposedly instigated by Kemp is thin.
That tool is the “use it or lose it” law, and Georgia is one of nine states to have adopted such a law since Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act in 1993. Here’s how it works: If a registered voter does not vote in any election in Georgia for three consecutive years, he is considered to be inactive. This is a designation that’s required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act before a state can revoke a voter’s registration. The voter is notified via a prepaid return postcard that he is inactive and can become active again in three ways: by voting again, by returning the notice, or by otherwise making contact with local elections officials. The inactive voter has an additional four years (or two federal election cycles) to reactivate his registration. The entire process takes seven consecutive years and doesn’t require a registered voter to vote at all—only make some form of contact renewing the registration.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court overruled a lower court opinion on a similar law in Ohio and found such procedures are not unconstitutional. Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion, argued that federal law prohibits failure to vote as the “sole criterion” for revoking a registration. But Ohio’s “use it or lose it” law, like Georgia’s, includes the return notice process, which the majority concluded was fully in line with federal law. All of which is to say that the “purges” attributed to Kemp are in keeping with state and federal law, passed by duly elected representatives.
That’s another reason for Democrats to insist that the election was stolen by Kemp, however disingenuously. The more attention they call to Georgia, the more momentum they might generate in that state and others to repeal “use it or lose it” laws. “It’s too hard to vote” is an abstract complaint, unlikely to move people to change the process quickly. “The Republicans stole Georgia” is more concrete and nefarious. And if you can take perfectly mundane things that Kemp has said and distort them to make it sound like he was trying to suppress voting in service to the cause, so much the better.
One more note on this race, from RCP’s poll of polls:
Apart from that one extreme 12-point outlier at the very end of the race, poll after poll predicted the outcome almost exactly. It was tight but Kemp led pretty consistently by two points or so. Final result on election night: Kemp by 1.5. That doesn’t disprove chicanery, obviously, but the case for believing that Abrams had lost votes for sinister reasons would be strengthened if there were an obvious mismatch between what Georgians were telling pollsters and how the vote shook out. There wasn’t. It lined up.
One ominous takeaway from all this: No matter which side loses the 2020 election, anything but a landslide will result in endless shrieking about cheating and stealing and the system being rigged. Whoever wins had better do so very comfortably, outside the margin of vaguely plausible conspiracy theories.