Members of the Georgia Green Party, from Savannah to Atlanta, gathered at the Capitol Building, alongside Common Cause Georgia as part of Citizen’s Lobby Day. People from all walks of life joined together for one common purpose — to fix the broken, rigged election system in Georgia. These concerned citizens, and almost exclusively first-time lobbyists, agreed the biggest obstacle to election integrity in this state is gerrymandering.
“It was an awesome experience, waiting for the Senators to arrive amid a chaotic, cacophony of high level decision-makers and their constituents,” reports Christi Oates of the Chatham Greens. “I really felt the power of the face-to-face, eye-to-eye connection, and I could tell they were a bit taken aback by the well-informed questions I posed. It was very empowering.”
After every census, the party in power (Democrat or Republican) uses techniques known as ‘stacking, cracking and packing’ to ensure lopsided, oddly fabricated districts have no more than 30% of constituents who support the opposing party, allowing for an easy, incumbent victory.
In the 2016 general election:
81% of incumbents for the Georgia General Assembly ran unopposed
82% of open seats in Georgia only had one name on the ballot
5 US Representatives ran unopposed
After identifying the threats our democracy is facing from establishment politicians and their unethical stronghold on our ‘districts,’ the group dedicated their focus to the Reapportionment Committee and the redistricting, anti-gerrymandering legislation, Senate Resolutions 6 & 7, proposed by Senator Elena Parent, District 42. These resolutions propose to establish an independent, bipartisan, Citizens Redistricting Commission, as well as provide a list of five specific, anti-gerrymandering practices to be adhered to when developing the maps.
“There’s nothing wrong with the current system,” said Senator Ben Watson, Chair of the Reapportionment Committee, on Citizen’s Lobby Day. Watson added that he did not intend to allow a vote on the proposed resolutions. And despite a packed room at the hearing and dozens of calls and letters from his constituents, a vote was not granted. The resolutions will be up for additional hearings during the next legislative session.
Georgia Greens Demand Paper Ballots
The Green Party has more in its crosshairs than just gerrymandering when it comes to election reform. John Fortuin, a Georgia Green Party member esteemed for his days lobbying against the electronic voting machines in the early 2000s,warned there are more than 20 documented vulnerabilities permitting hacks of Georgia’s electronic voting machines. Efforts to develop fixes to these vulnerabilities have been blocked at every level, he added.
It is critical Green Party leaders and members fight for mandates on paper ballots as the only legal ballot in the state, and eliminate hackable/error-prone electronic records. Currently, SB59: Georgia State Senate Bill on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Systems would require a verifiable paper trail for recounts in Georgia’s elections. Without Republican authors or co-sponsors, SB59 is unlikely to receive a hearing, and further analysis of the bill is required. Georgia Greens and our allies must persuade Republicans who believe in the Constitution to introduce paper ballot legislation.
Sara Henderson, new policy director of Common Cause Georgia, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization working to ensure the highest level of election integrity, who attended Citizen’s Lobby Day, said she is driven by the clear need for better governance, and grassroots pressure is exactly what is needed. The Georgia Green Party looks forward to forming these much-needed alliances to affect change at the ballot box for Georgia’s citizens.
“I am proud to be part of this collective voice of activists, uniting across all dividing lines, both within and without the Green Party,” said Oates. “And, according to a gold-dome insider who will remain anonymous, the establishment around here is scared. They see what is happening in the streets.” Watch Christi Oates of Savannah asks Senator Matt Brass about gerrymandering.
Georgia Greens Take Action
On February 26, Cobb Greens & Friends attended the in-person town hall of Georgia State Rep. Stacey Evans (D), representing House District 42 for the cities of Smyrna and Marietta. When asked about the many bills circling the Georgia State House attempting to restore election integrity, Rep. Evans said she is in favor of all the democratic measures.
Evans said she supports an independent commission, and admitted that when Democrats were in the majority at the capitol, her own party was guilty of gerrymandering. Evans added, that if Democrats were to gain the majority in Georgia’s state house again, she commits to supporting this same legislation on restructuring the redistricting process.
As the onslaught of attacks from establishment, political corporatists continue to mount, the 99% must unite to fix the broken, rigged election system. Without fair, democratic elections, the life and death issues fought for by the Georgia Green Party can not be won. If election integrity is also your top priority, please TURN YOUR PASSION INTO ACTION.
Senator Ben Watson, Chair of the Reapportionment Committee
(404) 656-7880 / (912) 527-5100
As a member of the Georgia Green Party, I demand that Georgia legislators fix our broken, rigged election system in this state. I firmly support SB59, as well as Senate Resolutions 6 & 7, and their attempts to stop gerrymandering by creating an independent commission on redistricting, as well as ensuring a paper trail to audit our elections. I am very disappointed no votes or actions were taken this year to address these constitutional issues. The Georgia Green Party demands this issues be a priority during next year’s legislative session. It is time to stand up for American democracy and the rights of Georgia’s citizens!
2017-04-24 at 5:16 pm
Thank you for writing and posting this article! I look forward to doing more work like this as we move forward in this important work!
2017-04-25 at 8:59 am
Fantastic to see and hear Georgia Greens speaking Truth to Power at the General Assembly! We need more opportunities to hear about Georgia Greens confronting the issues of the day and proposing Green solutions.