The state of Georgia has become a key battleground for black voting rights.
In 2018, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, the nation’s first-ever major-party African-American woman nominee for governor, narrowly lost to Secretary of State Brian Kemp after thousands of black voters saw their absentee ballots thrown out, polling places consolidated, and voting machines warehoused in their precincts. These incidents led to a sharp outcry and questions of legitimacy, because Kemp was administering the same election he was running in. Nonetheless, the election was extremely close — a margin of just 50,000 votes decided the outcome in a state of over 10 million people.
Now, ahead of the 2020 election, The Daily Beast has published an analysis on another racially discriminatory law that could play a substantial role in the outcome: “moral turpitude” laws.
In some Southern states, Georgia included, felonies of “moral turpitude” can disqualify you from voting. The problem is that “moral turpitude” is not defined anywhere in Georgia’s constitution or laws, meaning that just about anyone with a felony conviction can be excluded if state officials want — and this applies disproportionately to people of color.
Ex-convicts regain their rights after completing their sentences, but remain ineligible while on probation or parole, which leaves some 250,000 people, or 3 percent of the entire voting-age population, disenfranchised — five times the margin with which Kemp carried the gubernatorial election in 2018. 58 percent of these disenfranchised ex-convicts are African-American.
Georgia is not the only state where moral turpitude laws have been used to deny black voters the franchise. In Alabama, moral turpitude used to be so ill-defined that black people were denied the vote for things as minor as cashing bad checks — and such voters were disenfranchised for life, even after completing their sentences. A Supreme Court decision in 1985, triggered ironically enough when the state tried to disenfranchise a white man, forced Alabama to restrict moral turpitude to felonies only.
In 2017, the state further revised its constitution to name only a specific list of felonies that constitute moral turpitude — and even then, the state carefully chose crimes that black people are disproportionately convicted for, like burglary and robbery, while leaving out crimes like public corruption and embezzlement that are more closely associated with affluent white offenders.
Bloomberg and Biden attack Sanders supporters’ ‘Trump-like’ tactics
On Monday, The New York Times analyzed the state of the Democratic presidential primaries heading into the Nevada caucuses. One of the key new developments is a fresh volley of attacks on the behavior of supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which is being characterized as "Trump-like" by former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which has largely focused its attacks on President Trump, on Monday mounted a frontal offensive against one of his Democratic rivals for the first time, comparing Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign tactics with those employed by the president," wrote Thomas Kaplan, Kate Conger, and Reid Epstein.
Some Tea Party Republicans are voting for Bernie Sanders — and not for the reasons that you think
Some Democratic primaries are only open to registered Democrats; others allow all registered voters to participate regardless of party affiliation — including South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary. Registered Republicans will be free to vote in that primary and vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or any one of the other candidates. And Jane Coaston, in Vox, explains why some Tea Party Republicans in South Carolina are voting for Bernie Sanders.
Bloomberg vs. Trump would mean America has already amused itself to death
Maybe this wasn’t exactly the way Neil Postman wrote it up in 1985. After all, Instagram and Twitter were unfathomable in a world where the internet was still a closely held secret among computer-science geeks. Yet that was the world in which the late New York University media critic wrote a book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” that essentially predicted Donald Trump, the drug of 24/7 cable news and … everything, decades before they actually occurred.But Postman would have inherently understood multibillionaire Mike Bloomberg’s surging 2020 presidential campaign and what it says about an A... (more…)