Nearly two thousand working voting machines sat unused across metropolitan Atlanta on Tuesday, as tens of thousands of African American voters suffered through extraordinarily long lines at the polls. In many cases they were forced to wait in line several hours in order to vote.
“More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta.”
“More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta.” https://t.co/ynlcUNi1pI
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 9, 2018
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, local officials in Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton counties sequestered the machines due to “an ongoing federal lawsuit that argues Georgia’s electronic voting machines could be hacked or tampered with.”
But there’s a major problem with this lame excuse: the ongoing litigation doesn’t demand that voting machines be “sequestered” in this situation.
Bruce Brown, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs in the case of Curling v. Kemp, noted this interesting turn of events in comments to the newspaper.
“No judge anywhere, at any time, has ever ordered Fulton County or any other county to set aside more machines than they said they could spare. No request was ever made by anyone to plaintiffs or the court suggesting that Fulton or anyone else needed more machines for this or any other election.”
”Obviously, the court and the parties would have immediately entered into some sort of understanding to allow the counties to have enough machines to use for the election. The idea that the litigation caused the shortage of machines is absolute, unmitigated nonsense.”
There were fewer machines in the affected precincts and thus the voters faced long delays. The shortage of voting machines affected all of the voters in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties, the three jurisdictions covered by the court case.
Georgia election officials confirmed that the shortage of voting machines, combined with high turnout, resulted in the longest voting lines in many years. They said that by the time they realized turnout would significantly exceed the last midterm election, there wasn’t time to find additional machines.
“We thought we had enough until turnout started expanding, and with the ballot being long and complicated, the time at the touchscreen was longer,” said Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler. “We had voters who called and expressed their frustration.”
Georgia voting rights advocates accused GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp (who was also secretary of state) and Republican local officials of disenfranchising thousands of African American voters on Election Day. In addition to the shortage of voting machines, there were also hundreds of complaints about broken equipment and insufficient quantities of printed provisional ballots.
Attorney Brown said Kemp was directly implicated in all of Georgia’s voting problems.
“The buck stops with him,” Brown said. “He is in charge of elections statewide. It is his office that’s responsible for making sure the counties have the resources they need. The buck stops with Kemp.”
The buck does indeed stop with Brian Kemp. And he may go down in history as the man who engineered his own election as governor of Georgia by orchestrating a sophisticated and multi-pronged attack on the voting rights of Georgians.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.