Editor’s Note: Van Jones is the host of the “The Van Jones Show” and a CNN political commentator. He is the co-founder of #cut50, a national, bipartisan criminal justice initiative of the Dream Corps. The views expressed here are solely his. View more opinion articles on CNN.
If we are honest, the early conventional wisdom was Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had zero chance of beating Republican Brian Kemp. She is a progressive black woman running for governor against a conservative white man in a deep-red state that Trump won handily in 2016.
But the truth is: Her campaign was so good, and she is so compelling, that Abrams would almost certainly be governor-elect right now – if the election had been fair.
As the final votes are tallied, Kemp enjoys a razor-thin margin – but it is the product of misconduct so brazen and unethical that UN monitors would likely declare a stolen election if the contest were held in another country.
That’s why, right now, every voter in Georgia should be logging onto the secretary of state website or calling Election Protection at 1-866-OUR-VOTE to ensure their votes were counted. Those who cast a provisional ballot should head to their county election office immediately, bringing a ballot receipt and driver’s license/ID or proof of citizenship. The deadline is today, Friday, November 9; the time varies by county. (You can learn more at www.GoVoteGA.org).
If this assessment sounds extreme – take a look at the top eight things Kemp did to steal the election:
Overseeing the election he ran in: Kemp supervised and monitored his own gubernatorial election as Georgia’s secretary of state and refused to step down until two days after the polls closed. He ignored former US President and Georgia native Jimmy Carter, who urged Kemp to foster voter confidence and avoid any risk of bias by resigning.
Purging voters from the rolls: Under Kemp, Georgia eliminated 1.5 million people from voter rolls between 2012 to 2016 – nearly 10.6 percent of the total – in part through an “exact match” standard that deleted people if so much as a comma was out of place.
Closing polling places: Georgia shut down 214 polling places across the state, mainly in areas with higher poverty rates and significant populations of people of color.
Disenfranchising voters: Between 2013 and 2015, the state cited its “exact match” protocol and canceled nearly 35,000 voter registration applications (76 percent were from applicants who identified as African-American, Latino or Asian-American), according to a lawsuit against Kemp filed by a coalition of civil rights groups.
Sowing voter confusion: Days after the midterm voter registration deadline in Georgia passed, 53,000 voting applications were still pending, the Associated Press reported. An AP analysis found that 70% of the applications were from black Georgians.
Creating long lines with too few voting machines: Voters, many in areas with significant minority populations, waited an average of three hours to cast their votes on November 6, a representative from the nonpartisan organization Verified Voting told Wired. Some voters waited for hours because Kemp’s office did not provide power cords for voter machines. Thousands of voters waited at precincts with only three voting machines – and now, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Kemp’s office had hundreds of unused voting machines sitting in a warehouse.
Forcing voters to use provisional ballots: The combination of voter roll purges and strict voter ID laws (Brian Kemp himself was initially turned away from the polls on Tuesday) forced many eligible voters to use provisional paper ballots. Many of these have not yet been counted.
Refusing to secure elections: Georgia is one of a handful of states that runs its elections using direct recording electronic machines without keeping a paper trail of votes. Kemp repeatedly ignored warnings and fought legal efforts to force him to secure the vote and create a paper trail, all while accusing Democrats of trying to hack the state’s voter registration files.
It is hard not to conclude that Kemp is either incompetent at running elections – or thought the only way he could win would be to cheat.
Yet despite it all, Stacey Abrams is quite nearly within the range to force a runoff election on December 4. Under Georgia law, a candidate for governor must secure 50% of the vote.
If none of the above had occurred, Abrams almost certainly would have won outright or held Kemp under that level. As it is, there may be sufficient votes yet uncounted to force a runoff. Voters in Georgia deserve for there to be a runoff so they know their next governor was fairly and legitimately elected.
Kemp has tried to distract us by stepping down as secretary of state immediately after the damage was done. He has even declared victory, even though there remain uncounted votes. Worse, the secretary of state’s office is not cooperating with the Abrams campaign to determine how many.
That’s why everyone should be tuned in to what is happening in Georgia:
Every elected official should be demanding an independent review of the election. Journalists should be descending to cover this attempted robbery. Activists and donors should be supporting Stacey Abrams – and preparing for a runoff election on December 4.
It would be a stain on America’s democracy to allow Jim Crow-style election-rigging to cost a qualified candidate a fair shot.