Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

The Georgia Election Integrity Act: A Desperate Attempt By The Republican Party To Retain Power

Monday, March 29th, 2021

There was already a perfectly fine election statute in the state of Georgia. Perfectly fine. Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated had just completed governing the November election for President and the January election for two US Senate seats. The Presidential election had withstood lawsuits and multiple audits and been judged to have been exemplary on all counts. It was a perfectly fine statute, except for one thing: The wrong people won. And they were Democrats.

The Republican elites, who currently hold the key to the Governor’s office, as well as majorities in both the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate, could not abide that. Something had to be done. And something was. Senate Bill 202 amended the perfectly fine Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. It became the Election Integrity Act.

The Election Integrity Act was signed into law last Friday by Governor Brian Kemp behind locked doors, no reporters allowed, in the presence of six other aging white guys (and a photographer, for whose presence and work we are grateful) and in front of a painting of the Calloway Plantation, where, in the mid-19th century, more than 100 Black Slaves toiled day and night to make the very white Calloway family ever so comfortable and rich.

As Governor Kemp, who, ironically, served as Georgia’s Secretary of State from 2010 to 2018, was getting ready to sign this obviously much-needed legislation, State Representative Park Cannon, who is Black, knocked on the locked door asking to be let in to observe. For her trouble, she was arrested by three burly state troopers and hauled off in handcuffs, and now faces two charges: willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and preventing or disrupting general assembly sessions. Video taken at the time showed none of that.

After the unfortunate interruption, Kemp signed the amended legislation, shook hands with the six aging white guys, and that was that.

That was that, that is, until certain people, including the current President of the United States, upset with the whole thing, noticed the wording in lines 1,872 through 1,881, which is this:

So, unless you have a 26 foot pole with a drink on the end of it, you’re not giving water to anyone standing in the Georgia Sun patiently waiting to cast a ballot. If you do, you’ll share Representative Cannon’s fate. In his nationally broadcast press conference, President Biden called this provision of the law, “sick.”

A new national study led by economist Keith Chen of the University of California, Los Angeles, found voters in predominantly black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer, on average, than those in white neighborhoods. They were also about 74 percent more likely to wait for more than half an hour.

The new food and drink prohibition quite understandably got a lot of press attention. It oozes racism. But throughout the amended statute one will find other instances of intentional voter suppression. For example:

  • Drop boxes: Created by emergency rule due to the pandemic, these proved extremely popular during the two elections in question. In heavily democratic Fulton County, alone, 146,000 votes were made by absentee ballots placed in drop boxes. Republicans noticed immediately.

“As soon as we may constitutionally convene, we will reform our election laws to secure our electoral process by eliminating at-will absentee voting,” the Georgia Senate Republican Caucus wrote in an 8 December email. “We will require photo identification for absentee voting for cause, and we will crack down on ballot harvesting by outlawing drop boxes.”

The result in the Election Integrity Act: No more than one drop box per county. Officials, at their discretion, may place others, but no more than one per every 100,000 voters.

  • Voter challenges: In Georgia, voters are called “electors.” Prior to the new legislation, any elector could challenge the qualifications of anyone applying to register to vote or could challenge anyone whose name appeared on a list of registered electors. The Election Integrity Act added the following sentence: There shall not be a limit on the number of persons whose qualifications such elector may challenge. One can imagine an entire group of people being challenged.
  • Mobile Voting Buses: Under the old legislation, groups could use buses, approved by the Secretary of State, as mobile voting centers. Two were used in predominantly minority Fulton County (I cite Fulton County again, because in his infamous call with Secretary of State Raffensperger, President Trump mentioned the County 11 times in his quest to get Raffensperger to find him 11,780 votes). The Election Integrity Act prohibits Mobile Voting Buses.
  • Absentee Ballots: The Election Integrity Act, which is 2,427 lines long, devotes more than 1,450 to redesigning Georgia’s entire absentee ballot system. It is obvious Georgia’s Republican Party abhors the very thought of absentee ballots, even though a significant number of Republicans vote by absentee ballot. The law prohibits no-excuse absentee ballot application, as well as the universal sending of absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. Absentee ballot violations are considered felonies by the new legislation.
  • The Secretary of State: Until Brian Kemp signed the Election Integrity Act, the Secretary of State, as in most U.S. states, was responsible for conducting elections. But Raffensperger and those in his office angered many fellow Georgia Republicans during the presidential and senate races, because, after exhaustive audits, they found no fraud significant enough to change anything. The new law strips him of his authority by creating an Elections Board, whose chairperson will be elected by the legislature. The Secretary of State is now an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Board.

It is understandable why Georgia republicans are going to such lengths to suppress minority voting. Consider this from statistics from Georgia’s Secretary of State:

  • Since 2000, the percentage of white voters in Georgia has decreased from 68% to 58%. At the same time, the Black voting percentage has increased from 27% to 33% of total voters.
  • From 2000 through 2019, Georgia’s eligible voting population grew by 1.9 million; 48% were Black. White growth was only 26%.
  • The majority of single-race Blacks live in the South – 59%

As the proportion of white voters in the nation continues to shrink, the Republican Party is shrinking right along with it. It is unmovably the Party of Barry Goldwater and his small tent, Ronald Reagan and his “welfare queen,” and, of course, Donald Trump and his racist white supremacy. It is exhibiting all the characteristics of the self-cannibalistic rat snake that cannot stop itself from eating itself. Georgia’s Election Integrity Act is nothing more than a desperate attempt by the aforementioned aging white guys to blunt the impact of an irresistible demographic force.

In the end, it will fail.  Democracy will prevail.

Health Wonk Review’s Research Edition & a roundup of other news

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Brad Wright of Wright on Health has an excellent edition of Health Wonk Review, which shines a spotlight on research. Brad notes that, going forward, research will be incredibly important as health reform is implemented and evaluated. He offers a fine research roundup from leading healthcare bloggers – check it out!
Healthcare – According to a Commonwealth Fund report on healthcare, which assessed and compared data from patient and physician surveys in seven countries in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the U.S. scored sixth out of seven countries on quality issues, yet we spent more than double per person than any other surveyed country. See the full report How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2010 Update, which includes both a snapshot chart and an interactive comparison tool. Related: Results from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008
The importance of timely reporting – In Manucy v. Joe Manucy Racing, The Louisiana Court of Appeal recently ruled that an employee who was injured during horse training was ineligible for benefits because although the injury was immediately apparent, the worker did not file for benefits until about a year and a half after the injury occurred. Louisiana law stipulates a one-year from date of injury filing deadline for injuries that are immediately evident, and two years for injuries that do not develop immediately. In this case, the injury was immediately apparent, requiring ambulance transport and surgery within two months. State law varies on statues of limitations for benefit eligibility, most commonly falling between one and three years from date of injury. Many states offer some exceptions to the statutes – such as starting the clock ticking at date of disability rather than date of injury or allowing exceptions if there is conduct that might be regarded as deceptive on the part of the employer.
Going and coming – As a rule, any injuries that happen to an employee when they are traveling to or from work – ‘going and coming’ – are not compensable, but there are exceptions. Fortney v. AirTran Airways, Inc. deals with one of those exceptions: service/benefit to the employer. In this case, the employee was killed in a plane crash while flying on a reciprocal arrangement with another airline. The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld benefits to the estate of the deceased. At Lexis Nexis Workers’ Comp Community, Roland Legal PLLC summarizes the issues: “Whether an employer uses transportation or transportation expense as an inducement for an employee to accept or continue employment is material to supporting compensability, particularly when the journey is sizeable and when the employer pays all or substantially all of the expense.” See our prior post about common exceptions to the ‘going and coming’ rule.
Medicare – Get your popcorn and follow along as Joe Paduda offers a guide to the status of the Medicare “fix” and looks at various scenarios for how things may play out.
Retroactive Insurance in Georgia – events continue to play out in the wake of the insolvency of Southeastern U.S. Insurance Inc (SEUS) in Georgia (a story in and of itself, and worth a read if you haven’t been following along). After the SEUS demise, many employers were left holding the bag for the open claims of injured workers because they had not paid into the state’s insolvency fund and were therefore ineligible for coverage. New legislation will cover employers retroactively if they pay into the state insolvency fund, but the Georgia’s Insurers Insolvency Pool has filed a challenge to the new law. “The pool is placed in a position of uncertainty as to whether the legislation imposes duties and obligations on the pool retroactively in violation of the Georgia state constitution,” the filing says.
Arizona judge: no raiding the compensation fund – The state of Arizona is considering an appeal to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Larry Grant’s ruling which found that Governor Brewer and legislators ignored the plain language of the law by trying to use $4.7 million from the State Compensation Fund to help balance the budget. According to the judge “The proceeds held by the special fund are insurance proceeds held in the benefit of employees and employers covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
Safety shorts

Cavalcade of Risk #100 (!) and other news of note

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Is the 100th time the charm? Cavalcade of Risk celebrates its centesimal issue today – that’s a lot of risk coverage! Our host for this landmark issue is Russell Hutchinson of moneyblog – tip of the hat to him for a good issue. And kudos to Cavalcade founder and visionary, Hank Stern of InsureBlog.
Chronic Pain – a few weeks ago, we brought you one approach to chronic pain management. In Risk and Insurance, Peter Rousmaniere discusses the CT Workers’ Compensation Trust approach to chronic pain. This self-insurance pool of 390 healthcare employers introduced a a five-pronged program in 2009, which Rousmaniere outlines. He challenges readers to “consider how many of the five you or your vendors apply.”
Uncovered in Georgia – a loophole left 88 injured workers without workers’ comp coverage on the recent failure of Atlanta-based workers’ compensation insurer Southeastern U.S. Insurance (SEUS) Inc. Normally, the state’s insolvency pool would serve as a safety net for failed insurers, but up until a law change in 2008, captive insurers were not covered by this pool. While SEUS had converted from captive to become a traditional insurer, 88 workers claims predated the conversion and are responsible for their According to the article, “Eight of those workers have catastrophic injuries and will need lifetime care. One has medical needs exceeding $45,000 a month.”

“Twelve other firms that operated under rules that exempted the failed company’s clients from drawing from an insolvency pool still do business in the state. And while they all now pay into that pool, 10 have claims predating the 2008 change in the law that required them to do so.
If any fail, workers with active pre-2008 claims could find themselves in a similar bind. State insurance regulators say they don’t know how many people ultimately could fall in that category. But they say they don’t think any of the 12 companies is in danger of failing.”

Mad as a hatter – On the recent release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the CDC reminds us that the phrase “mad as a hatter” originated from on-the-job mercury poisoning. To shape felt hats, hat makers used a solution of mercuric nitrate and, as a result, often suffered from agitation, tremors, slurred speech and other neurological symptoms – thus, “mad as a hatter.” Hat manufacturers used mercury until 1941. Mercury is still used in many industries and the CDC article has some interesting statistics, as well as a page devoted to recommendations, reports, and other resources for preventing hazardous exposures to mercury on the job.
Fatal Injury mapping – via Occupational Health & Safety, we learn that OSHA has introduced a new fatal injury mapping module, which “…allows users to create customized, color-coded maps of injury-related death rates throughout the United States. It defines injury-related deaths according to intent (e.g., unintentional, homicide, suicide) and mechanism of injury (e.g., motor-vehicle traffic, fall, fire or burn, poisoning, cut).” CDC’s Fatal Injury Mapping Module. Other data and statistics are also available from CDC’s WISQARSTM (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System), an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data.
NY crane deaths followup – Liz Borowski of The Pump Handle offers and update on the 2008 crane NY crane disasters. The owner of the city’s largest construction crane company is expected to be indicted for manslaughter in the death of two workers in one of the incidents. She also updates status on OSHA’s crane & derrick rule.
Legislator, heal thyself – More than 70% of congressional offices violate OSHA safety standards – but the good news is that violations have dropped. “The number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations found in each office has significantly decreased over the years as well — from an average of about 8.15 violations per office in 2007 to an average of 1.75 hazards in each office this year.” (via Advanced Safety and Health)
March is workplace eye wellness monthReliable Plant offers some tips on eye and face protection. Other resources: OSHA Eye and Face Protection; NIOSH: Eye Safety; National Safety Council: Protecting Your Eyes from Injury; Healthy Vision 2010: Occupational Eye Injuries
Briefs