Georgia GOP Continues Campaign to Purge Minority Voters from Voting Rolls

Interview with Greg Palast, investigative reporter and author, conducted by Scott Harris

Long before the 2020 presidential election and the January Senate runoff election that saw rare razor-thin victories for two Democratic Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the state of Georgia has been ground zero for Republican party efforts to enact voter suppression legislation targeting communities of color and young voters likely to vote for Democrats.

Georgia’s new voting restriction law, S.B. 202, signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, gives state-level officials the authority to replace county election boards — giving GOP partisans the power to disqualify voters in Democratic-leaning areas. The bill criminalizes anyone who offers food and water to voters waiting in line, requires IDs for absentee ballots and limits the placement of ballot drop boxes.

Greg Palast, known for his investigative reports for The Guardian, Rolling Stone and Democracy Now and author of several New York Times bestsellers including “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” has been investigating the war over voting rights in Georgia for eight years. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Palast about his latest investigation titled, “Exposed: New Threat to 364,000 Minority Georgia Voters by GOP Operatives,” that is linked directly to Georgia’s new voter suppression law.

GREG PALAST: Altogether, these GOP operatives have challenged 364,000 voters, a third of a million, which is only possible under the new, what I call anti-voting bill signed into law in Georgia in March. What happened was they actually tried to challenge these voters, this third of a million voters just before the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs, which, in December they mounted this challenge to the Jan. 5 runoff, but, two things. It was too close to the election under federal law, but more important Georgia law itself, according to the ACLU, which blocked them in December could not allow one person to challenge literally, tens of thousands of people and remember that there’s 88 of them. They go from challenging a few thousand to 30,000.

How do you know? You’re supposed to verify this? You’re supposed to have personal knowledge if a voter challenges, another voter? It’s leftover from the Jim Crow laws where, you know, Farmer White would say, “Don’t let Joe Black vote.” But he had to know Joe Black.” But these people don’t know anyone.

So the law didn’t say, “Gee, you can just, you know, throw a list at the counties, some spreadsheet to counties to say, just remove all these voters or don’t count their vote.” But it is now specifically permitted. I just was literally reading just before we got on air, the brand new law, S.B. 202, and this is what I’ll say it. And here’s a quote: “There shall not be a limit on the number of persons whose qualifications may be challenged: Unlimited number of voters.” So the new law specifically allows this kind of wild, massive challenge of voters. In fact, the list is so long that (Republican political operative Pamela) Reardon couldn’t even afford to print it out. I had to send in the electronic spreadsheet and her buddy, the GOP chairman, added his 16,000 names on a thumb drive. So it’s like a lynching by thumb drive of the voters, overwhelmingly African-American, by the way.

So this is what is permitted under the new law. Now the question is, will it survive a legal challenge? And I wish to note that while the Department of Justice — and I applaud them — sued Georgia over the new law on Friday, they did not take on some of the worst elements of law, including this new unlimited challenge. One, ’cause I don’t even think they knew what was going on. Even the ACLU was surprised that they had resurrected this because this was kind of like slipped into the law. Yeah. So the new law empowers this crazy mass challenge.

SCOTT HARRIS: Now, how did you happen to find out? As you said, the Justice Department may not even be aware of this important little game that’s going on in Georgia that could deprive hundreds of thousands of people from their vote. But how did you come upon it?

GREG PALAST: Well, like you mentioned, I’ve been digging into Georgia while I’ve been working as you know, on the vote suppression investigations for Guardian, Rolling Stone, BBC, etc. for 20 years. I’ve been focusing on Georgia for the last eight years because it is — as people have now discovered and the nation now knows — this is ground zero for voter suppression because it’s a blue state when people get to vote. But it’s a red state when you stop the voting.

So that’s how the GOP, and again, I’m not partisan on this. Whether Republicans or Democrats get elected is not my business. But I’d like to see the voters make that decision. So I’m used to their trickery and I knew that once the ACLU had stopped them from those challenges, they were going to figure out a way around it.

And so I did take it to the ACLU and I even took it to the NAACP lawyers when I was down there. (Gerald) Griggs, the great lawyer who works at the NAACP, he said, “You know, by the way, okay, they may have changed Georgia law, but they didn’t change federal law, including the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, which makes these challenges a federal crime.” And he says, you know, you get arrested. That gets real real. This could come down to some very heavy duty conflicts.

SCOTT HARRIS: Greg, what’s the mechanism for judging whether or not these filings to contest or purge voters as we’ve been talking about, goes through in any given county in Georgia?

GREG PALAST: Here’s the process. You’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent. So what happens is, these counties under the Georgia law are now required to send a postcard to every challenged voter, no matter how cockamamie and how ridiculous and wild and absurd the challenge is on whatever basis. By the way, I called many (voters) and spoke to many, so did our team — hundreds, in fact, and, and it’s all bogus. There’s not one fraudulent voter.

Once you make the challenge, according to the new Georgia law, the county has to send the postcard to the voter, which the voter may never see, or, you know, may think is junk mail. But if they see it, the voter has to go into the county registrar’s office and have a hearing to prove they are who they are and live where they live. Now, as ACLU pointed out, Raul Garabadu there, a voting rights attorney in Georgia said, “Look, you’re talking about thousands of people crowding into these little offices to have a hearing to say that they are who they say they are, which is already horrible. They have to take days off work. You know, we are still in the middle of a pandemic.”

And so this could overturn the upcoming elections, reverse things. You know, Raphael Warnock is up for re-election. I know he was just elected last year, but he’s on a short term. He faces re-election and 300,000 voters is above his margin of victory. Joe Biden won the state by just 12,000 votes officially. And so, you know, you remove a third of a million voters and that’s a pretty heavy thumb on the scale.

For more information and reports by Greg Palast, visit his website at


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