Republican officials in Georgia have silently challenged 364,000 Georgian voters, a system re-empowered by Georgian Voting Restriction Act SB 202, passed in March.
A three-month investigation by the Palast Investigation Fund for the Hartmann Report has put hundreds of innocent voters at risk – as well as the perpetrators of this mass election program.
While the Department of Justice’s acclaimed lawsuit against the state of Georgia on Friday is certainly worthy, the lawsuit won’t protect those 364,000 newly at-risk voters.
A GOP official, Pamela Reardon, has personally questioned the right of 32,379 voters to be counted.
Last month, Reardon invited me to an on-camera interview at their stately home in Marietta, Georgia.
I showed Reardon photos of Tamara Horne and Storm Saul, just two of the voters she accused of voting with a wrong address – claiming that they along with 32,000 others committed a crime.
She said to me with confidence: “I know that for sure [those] Voters don’t live here. ”So I asked Reardon if she recognized a photo of Horne.
“Do you recognize this woman?”
She replied, “Not casually.”
“You never talked to her?”
She also did not contact Saul to verify her allegation. But I visited him at his house. I gave Reardon the opportunity to explain her attack on Saul’s voice by putting him on the speakerphone while our cameras were rolling.
The explanation never came.
Horne, who had lost her job during the COVID peak, had moved into nearby Cobb County with her family. In Georgia, as in most states, a citizen does not lose the right to vote if they move within their county.
But those facts hadn’t stopped Reardon or any of the other 87 activists who, together, filed a staggering 364,000 appeals against Georgia voters.
We contacted dozens of challenged voters, all of whom were stunned to learn that they had been accused of illegal voting and that their ballot papers would now be discarded in future elections.
Allegations could violate the anti-Ku Klux Klan law
I took the list of challenges to Gerald Griggs, the Atlanta attorney known for his victories on behalf of the Georgia NAACP.
The wild, unconfirmed accusations by Reardon and her cronies against a mass of voters, a suspiciously colored list of voters, could flow straight into the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, opening them up to lawsuits from those who wrong them has accused. The law also provides criminal sanctions for intimidating voters.
When I asked Reardon if she was familiar with the KKK law, she said, “I’m from Canada!” She cited Canada again when I asked about other federal voter protection laws. (She is now a U.S. citizen.)
Reardon, apparently hoping for a brothel interview about her candidacy for vice chairman of the GOP, finally shouted, “Get out of my house!” I complied quickly, eyeing the shotgun leaning against her front door and the handguns on display and ammunition boxes.
Instead of saying goodbye, she said “You’re an asshole” and shouted “F *** YOU!” through the door. You can watch our exchange in this video: “Georgia: New Mass Voter Challenge by GOP Exposed”.
Behind the Georgia GOP is a powerful Texas group
While Reardon wouldn’t tell us who gave her the voter hit list, we learned that the tables were created by a Tea Party spin-off, True the Vote, of Houston, Texas.
Most of the 88 challengers using True the Vote lists are Republican officials or activists. Cobb County’s GOP Chairman himself added 16,000 challengers to Reardon’s 32,000.
Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer said in a press release, “True the Vote’s resources will help us organize and implement the most comprehensive election security initiative in Georgian history.”
That statement was quite an act of chutzpah. That’s right, the vote is a 501 (c) (3) supposedly non-partisan charity. Shafer’s boast of coordinating the GOP with True the Vote sparked a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission by Common Cause, which is pending.
If True the Vote is behind Georgia GOP Challenges, who is behind True the Vote? Records show that the Wisconsin Bradley family, right-wing billionaires, charged True the Vote with millions of dollars. This has enabled the group to provide formidable legal counsel to Reardon and their fellow challengers: conservative star lawyer James Bopp, famous for his successful Citizens United lawsuit.
It is true that the vote did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
New Georgia law revives the mass challenge
The Georgia ACLU successfully blocked the first attempt by Reardon and other true-the-vote shillings when they challenged voters in December, just before the US Senate runoff elections. Rahul Garabadu, the Georgia ACLU suffrage attorney, said the ACLU’s success was based on admonishing districts that Georgian law did not allow and “which simultaneously challenged hundreds of thousands of voters.”
But the new Georgia law does just that. In particular, SB 202 allows any “voter” (ie, a voter) to contest the qualifications of another voter. And the law horrifyingly says: “There must be no limit to the number of people whose qualifications such a voter can contest.”
After Reardon confessed that she hadn’t personally verified the facts about the voters she challenged, she changed her mind and said she had only asked the county to “verify” that the voters were legally resident. However, in a letter she sent to the county, she questioned the eligibility of every voter. Through the Open Records Act, we received your letter to the county which reads:
Please accept this letter as a challenge to the voting rights of the enclosed voters … [T]These voters appear to have established permanent alternate residence, as reflected in their change of address, to residential addresses outside of the Georgia county in which they are currently registered to vote.
ACLU’s Garabadu said this was not just a request to verify residency. Under Georgia’s law, Reardon’s challenge would prohibit those thousands of voters from counting the ballots unless each individual appears in person at his district’s registry office and undergoes a hearing to prove who he is and where he lives.
Not only a few take the day off work to line up outside a clerk’s office to save their one voice, Garabadu envisioned the scene with thousands of voters “in the midst of a pandemic” crowd into these small offices .
Reardon GOP compatriot, Party chairman Jason Shepherd added on his own file, “I have evidence that 16,024 people are registered in Cobb County who reside outside of the state of Georgia.” I tried speaking to Shepherd about how he personally verified each claim, but he didn’t answer my multiple requests for an interview.
Federal lawsuit won’t stop the challenge
On Friday, the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced that it would sue Georgia under the Suffrage Act – that is, what remains of the law – to have portions of SB 202 reversed. Unfortunately, the Justice Department did not go after the new, unlimited voter challenges.
The DOJ stuck to the simple and obvious things: reducing ballot boxes, handing out pizza to voters in long lines about a crime, onerous ID requirements just to request a postal vote, and other voting issues.
Why? The simplest explanation is that by the time the Palace Fund investigation was published this week, the GOP / True The Vote revival of their massive challenge had gone under the radar, taking authorities and even local activists by surprise.
On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “We are reviewing new laws aimed at restricting access to voters and will act if we find violations of federal law.”
Now let’s see if Garland is ready to dust off the Ku Klux Klan law and face the perpetrators of Georgia’s largest vote suppression program to date.
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