Georgia is purging 330k voters
Georgia is looking to take even more people off the election voter rolls in the coming months (about 330,000) than have registered to vote so far this year (310,000).
The astonishing but seemingly coincidental similarity of those big numbers helps underscore, once again, how the state has become one of the nation's prime voting rights battlegrounds just as it has also become a newly competitive battleground electorally.
After one of the closest governor's races of last year, Democrats have high hopes for toppling the GOP's 14-year hold on all statewide contests by staging strong runs for both of the state's Senate seats and Georgia's 16 electoral votes. But the party's chances rest heavily on a huge turnout, especially by African-Americans and people who only think about voting in presidential years.
That could be made more difficult after the coming purge, which will target registrants who have not cast ballots in several years. The state estimates the vast majority of those people have died or moved away, and those who are still in Georgia but have been politically inactive will get a chance to keep their registration current.
The secretary of state's office, which this week reported the surge in new registrations thanks in large part to the automatic registration of qualified people whenever they renew a driver's license, detailed its planned cleanup of the rolls just hours later.
Notices will be sent in coming days to the last known address of each inactive voter. To remain registered they must return a postage-paid form, re-register online or cast a ballot in next week's local elections. Those who don't respond in 30 days will have their names removed before year's end, well in advance of the March primary.
This is different from the last purge in Georgia, the largest single removal of voters in American history, when 534,00 registrations were canceled in 2017 without any warning. After a wave of complaints, the General Assembly passed a law requiring advance notice, but voting rights advocates say the system remains too harshly punitive for people who have decided not to vote in a while.
Still, last year the Supreme Court upheld Ohio's system for dropping voters who haven't cast ballots over a period of time. This month the state culled culled 182,000 registrations, or 2 percent of the statewide total, mostly people who had not gone to the polls in six years.
But Ohio makes public the names of potential cancellations, allowing voting rights groups to help them reregister. The Georgia secretary of state's office hasn't decided whether it it will make its roster public.
In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.
The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.
With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.
This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.
Laura Williamson says her career was shaped by growing up in North Carolina, which she describes as being historically at the center of the best and worst of American democracy. She spent seven years working with young people at progressive groups and got a master's in public affairs at Princeton before joining Demos in the summer of 2018. The think tank aims to combat "threats to democracy, racial equity and economic inclusion" and as a senior policy analyst she's focused on voter registration, voting rights, money in politics and civic participation. Her answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?
Abolishing all disenfranchisement schemes and achieving an inclusive, multiracial democracy.
Describe your very first civic engagement.
Testifying at the North Carolina General Assembly against cuts to funding for vocational education. The woodworking classes I took throughout high school were among the most formative of my public school education, so as a high school senior I advocated for their continued funding to lawmakers in Raleigh.
What was your biggest professional triumph?
It's actually a triumph-in-progress. At Demos, we are privileged to work with powerful grassroots leaders redefining democracy and pushing the reform conversation across the country. Alongside these Inclusive Democracy Project leaders we are dreaming and scheming about what it would take to build a truly inclusive democracy — without limiting ourselves by what's perceived as politically feasible or reasonable — and to chart a radical reform agenda that meets the challenge. Our agenda is in progress and, like all real victories, is benefitting from the efforts of many smart and talented people. Stay tuned, it'll be ready for public consumption soon!
And your most disappointing setback?
They have always come after I've not listened well enough, have brought too much ego and taken things too personally, or not followed my gut about when a process or decision felt off.
How does your identity influence the way you go about your work?
I'm from North Carolina, where we pioneered multiracial, pro-justice fusion politics during Reconstruction, civil disobedience during the civil rights movement and franchise-expanding voting reforms since the 1990s. More recently, we have also been home to the vanguard of voter suppression and other democracy stifling tactics since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. I stand on the shoulders of giants and against the abdication of our identity as democracy leaders. I also do this work because, as a white woman, I know the exclusion of entire communities from our democracy was — and is still — led by my people and, often, in my name. I work every day to undo that legacy and ongoing reality.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Learn to simultaneously practice patience and show up with urgency in all the work I do.
Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry's.
Impeaches and Cream
West Wing or Veep?
West Wing — for the sometimes-too-earnest belief that government can be a force for good, not the centrist politics!
What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?
Turn on do not disturb.
What is your deepest, darkest secret?
I'm deeply terrified by karaoke.
Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.
With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.
Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.
Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.
I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.
Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.