Georgia’s efforts to elect the first black woman governor in American history this November—the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, is in a statistical tie with her Republican opponent—recently ran into a roadblock of the “insidious voter suppression” variety, when the Republican secretary of state froze some 53,000 voter registration applications flagged by the state’s “exact match” law, which requires that Georgians submit information identical to that on file with the Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. This policy extends to dropped hyphens, misplaced accents, and transcriptions errors, which means that the difference between, say, “Beyonce” and “Beyoncé” would be enough to land you on the hold list.
Why does this matter? Affected voters may still cast a provisional ballot, but must correct the discrepancy within 26 months in order to avoid cancellation of their registration. A representative of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law told the AP that this process has been shown to have both a high error rate and also a disproportionate impact on minority voters, and sure enough, although the state’s population is 32 percent black, according to an analysis conducted by the AP, the list is 70 percent black. In other words, all signs indicate that the Republican official in charge of administering elections is (ab)using his powers to stack the deck in favor of the Republican gubernatorial hopeful.