Republican Voter Suppression: New Threat to 364,000 Minority Georgia Voters By GOP Operatives

Investigative reporter Greg Palast dishes out the dirt on the latest news on the state of Republican voter suppression in Georgi
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Photos: Greg Palast

Investigative reporter Greg Palast dishes out the dirt on the latest news on the state of Republican voter suppression in Georgia.

A little-noticed provision in Georgia’s new voting restriction law, SB202, threatens the rights of 364,000 voters.

The new provision signed into law in March allows private citizens to challenge an “unlimited” number of other voters’ ballots. The result is that hundreds of thousands of voters individually targeted by a conservative group from Texas may not have their ballots counted in next year’s crucial US Senate race and the expected re-match for the Governorship between Stacey Abrams and incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.

- The Texas group is working through 88 local challengers, mostly GOP operatives.

- The champ of challengers is Pamela Reardan who is personally blocking attempting to block 32,379 voters in Cobb County, an Atlanta suburb. She claimed in papers filed with the County that she has knowledge that each one of these voters is illegally casting or will cast ballots there even though they no longer live in Cobb.

- Reardan, a GOP official, is the candidate of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for Vice-Chair of the Georgia Republican Party. (In February, Taylor Greene was stripped of Congressional committee posts over anti-semitic conspiracy statements.)

- One voter Reardon challenged, Tamara Horne, told our investigators that she had temporarily moved because she lost her job due to Covid and had to sell her home. Horne, an African-American woman like many on the challenge list, had moved within the County and therefore remains a legal voter. Horne was stunned that her ballots are challenged, stating, “This is the first I’m hearing about this. They never called me, never wrote me. I’ve been voting in Cobb for years. This is just unfair.”

In a filmed interview with this reporter at her home in Marietta, Reardon stated, “I don't know anybody that's moved temporarily because of COVID.” She did not recognize a photo of Horne, claimed she did not recognize the name, never spoke nor wrote to her yet claimed Horne was an illegal voter and her ballot should not be counted.

- In fact, Reardon stated she did not speak to a single one of these voters. “I did not speak to the 32,000 people.”

(Voting from a false address is felony crime. The state’s own investigation of the November presidential race could not identify a single felonious voter, let alone tens of thousands.)

- Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents the Georgia NAACP, when informed of the mass, stated [on camera] that unfounded attacks on voters violates the anti-Ku Klux Klan law of 1871, punishable by prison time.

When Reardon was asked if she was familiar with the Ku Klux Klan law, she stated, “I’m Canadian.” (She noted later that she became a voting US citizen in 1994.)

The Palast Investigative Fund team reached out to hundreds of these Cobb County and other Georgia voters. While some had indeed moved (and no longer voted in Cobb), most were stunned to find they’d been challenged.

One, Mr. Storm Saul [interviewed on camera] was offended that Reardon had, in effect, accused him of a crime. Reardon also admitted she never spoke to Mr. Saul and didn’t recognize his photo.

Reardon was one of 88 Georgia operatives simply filing lists created by True the Vote of Texas. (We contacted several challengers, but only Reardon agreed to an interview.)

Reardon and other True the Vote frontmen had originally challenged the counting of these voters ballots in December, just three weeks before the Georgia Senate run-off race. Many of these voters had already mailed in their ballots and were unaware of the attempt to prevent their counting.

- Had the challenges succeeded, it is unlikely that the Democratic would have taken both Senate seats—and the US Senate would have remained in Republican control of the US Senate.

However, in December, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia blocked this initial challenge warning the counties that federal law prohibits blockades of voters within 90 days of an election. Voting officials in Cobb and other counties also questioned whether one voter could reasonable have knowledge of these status of thousands of other voters.

When informed that True the Vote was resurrecting the challenge under the new Georgia law, Georgia ACLU attorney Rahul Garabadu told us [interview on camera], that these mass challenges were dangerous because, "Probable cause requires some individualized suspicion, which means you can't just print out reams and reams of information … and throw them to a county."

But the new law does just that, allowing any voter to challenge an “unlimited” number of other voters.

Another codicil in SB202 enforces the power of challengers. Counties, who previously had final say over voter rolls and the counting of ballots, must now accept the challenges. If not, a local board can be dismissed and overridden by the State Elections Board. The law also changed the voting membership of that board to include only representatives of the governor and legislative leaders, all Republicans.

The ACLU’s Garabadu also explained the crazy hoops voters would have to leap through to get their ballots counted. Counties will be forced, on the basis of any unfounded claim against thousands of voters, to mail each a postcard requiring the voter to come into their county clerk’s office and prove their residence. Not only do few take the day from work to stand in line at a clerk’s office to save their one vote, Garabadu imagined the scene of tens of thousands of voters crowding into these small offices “in the middle of a pandemic.”

- Behind True the Vote is their major funder, the Bradley Foundation, right-wing billionaires based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the “new Koch Brothers,” who have dedicated $2 billion to right-wing causes, particularly challenges to voters’ rights in Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas and now Georgia. Should the True the Vote operation succeed in Georgia, it would set a precedent for other states that still have private citizen challenge laws left over from the Jim Crow era

True the Vote did not respond to our several requests for an interview nor did Jason Shepard, Cobb County Republican Chairman who himself had challenged an additional 16,000 local voters.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has encouraged True the Vote’s mass challenges by their citizen “Elector” shills as a way to get around the federal voter protection restrictions. True the Vote quotes Raffensperger, “Though federal law restricts our ability to update our voter registration lists, the Elector Challenge is a vehicle under our law to ensure voter integrity.”

We attempted several times to speak with Raffensperger without success. The interview with Reardon concluded when, questioned about the legality of her actions, her husband seized this reporter and Reardon ordered him to leave. We did so immediately, noting the several handguns and ammunition boxes lying about, a shotgun leaning next to her front door and a photo of Reardon holding an automatic weapon. The stately Reardon, dressed elegantly in a Nancy Reagan style red dress, closed her argument with, “You’re an asshole. Fuck you!”

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