Strict voter registration requirements, polling place confusion and other obstacles Georgia voters faced in 2018 show why federal oversight of elections is still needed in places with a history of discrimination, said several people who testified Tuesday during a congressional field hearing.
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost her bid for governor last fall, told members of a House subcommittee about myriad issues that she says disenfranchised certain Georgia voters.
“Across the state, voters faced obstacles that shook their confidence in the electoral process,” Abrams said at the hearing in Atlanta. “From issues with registration to ballot access to the counting of votes, Georgians faced a systemic breakdown in its electoral process.”
Rep. Marcia Fudge, who chairs the House subcommittee, said Democrats are gathering evidence of voter irregularities and suppression. The Georgia hearing was the second of several field hearings scheduled around the country.
Their goal is legislation that would restore key sections of the Voting Rights Act that once required election officials in all or parts of 14 states to receive federal approval before making changes to the voting process.
A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision tossed out the provision used to determine which jurisdictions needed federal oversight of elections. But it left open the possibility that Congress could take legislative action to update this process.
“What the courts said to us is that that they could not continue to enforce Section 4 (of the Voting Rights Act) because they did not have a contemporaneous record,” Fudge said after the hearing. “We are doing these hearings to create a contemporaneous record so that we can go back to them and say, ‘Not only did we have these problems in 1968, but we had these problems in 2018.'”
The lone Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, did not attend Tuesday’s hearing. As a result, Republicans did not call any witnesses to testify.
A spokeswoman for Republicans on the committee said Davis was focused on the committee’s current review of H.R. 1, a bill introduced by Democrats earlier this year. It includes large-scale voting reforms, election security upgrades and changes to campaign finance laws.
This article provided by NewsEdge.