VoteAmerica is suing Georgia.

VoteAmerica is suing Georgia.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

I send an email to the VoteAmerica VIP list about once a month. This is a relatively small email list that reaches a few thousand people. Folks on that list have asked me to cross-post the emails on publicly so they can share with their friends. This email has been very lightly edited for a wider audience. It was originally sent on April 8, 2021.

Hey friends.

First, I know it’s been a while since I’ve sent one of these emails. Generally if I’m not talking (or emailing) it’s because I’m thinking. Mostly I’ve been thinking about the very, very long list that I wrote in January 2020 of things that could go wrong with the election, and how I legitimately did not think to put “armed insurrection” on that list. Second, I fully intended to send one of these emails on Jan 6, 2021, but scrapped the email when I woke up to an armed insurrection. Third, by “these emails” I mean specifically our VIP emails, which are very different in tone and content than the emails we send to our 3 million person general list. If you’re receiving this email, it’s because you’re tagged as a VIP in our database. If you don’t want to receive these long and somewhat serious emails from me in the future, please click the unsubscribe link in the footer.

Now that we’ve gotten the housekeeping out of the way, let me catch you up on what’s going on in general. Republican lawmakers in 47 states have put forth 300+ voter suppression bills so far this year. They claim that these bills are a response to “voter fraud.” This is untrue. These bills are a response to record breaking voter turnout, specifically among marginalized communities. The Republican platform is increasingly unpopular with the majority of voters, which makes it harder for Republicans to win elections. So these bills serve a few purposes: they’ll make it harder for Black and Brown people to vote; they’ll make it more likely that politicians with unpopular platforms will win; and they’ll make it damn near impossible to remove incompetent, corrupt, and sometimes openly evil lawmakers from office.


It actually gets worse. If you’re wondering how exactly lawmakers could introduce 100s of bills so quickly, it’s because they’re all written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a sort of comically evil “think tank” funded by Charles Koch. Charles Koch is the last of the Koch brothers, arguably the smartest, and one of the primary funders of the modern “conservative” movement, including the Tea Party. He’s also a billionaire who made his money in coal. And he’s brilliant: instead of running for office himself, he just buys lawmakers, drafts their legislation, and lets them execute on his plans. And right now his plans involve suppressing voter turnout.

Which brings me to Georgia. If you’re on this list, you read the news, so you know at least the broad strokes of what’s going on in Georgia. Republican lawmakers in Georgia are pretty clear that they do not care for high turnout rates among Black folks, so they’ve passed Senate Bill 202. Senate Bill 202 includes new burdensome ID requirements for absentee voting, reduces the number of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, makes it illegal for groups to send pre-filled absentee ballot applications to potential voters, and makes it a misdemeanor to give food or water to voters waiting in line to cast ballots.

This bill is both brilliant and evil. Brilliant because the whole “it will be illegal to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line” is a red herring. It’s outrageous, and it will almost definitely be overturned in the courts. In the meantime, it serves to distract us all from the actual goal of this bill: preventing the charities that register voters and help them sign up for absentee ballots from doing their work. This bill has nothing to do with what happens once you’re lined up to vote and everything to do with making sure that citizens simply can’t vote.

So now we’re suing the state of Georgia.

VoteAmerica is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed yesterday: VoteAmerica v. Raffensperger. (Raffensperger is the Georgia Secretary of State.) You can read the lawsuit here:

We’re focused specifically on the section of the bill that makes it illegal to send “pre-filled absentee ballot applications” to voters. Pre-filling absentee ballot applications is literally what one of our tools does: voters enter their information in our web-based tool, we transfer that information to the correct form, and then we provide the correct mailing address and other directions. If a voter doesn’t have a printer, we’ll also print and mail this form for them. In 2020 alone, we sent 48,000 pre-filled absentee ballot applications to voters in Georgia. These are folks who likely would not have voted without our assistance.

So that’s what’s going on in Georgia. This bill has nothing to do with food and water, and everything to do with attacking the charities that help people vote. And they’re not just attacking us and our co-plaintiffs: they plan to bankrupt us. Right now we’re looking at a $100 fine for each one of these forms that we send. Cute.

Along with our co-plaintiffs and our lawyers at the Campaign Legal Center, we’re going to do everything in our power to fight this ridiculous law. And we’re moving quickly, because we want this insidious law overturned in 2021, not 2022. So we’re bringing these issues to the forefront now, in 2021, as far ahead of the midterm elections as possible. Midterm elections are arguably more important than presidential elections, and we don’t have any time to waste.

We also don’t have a lot of money in the bank right now. At some point late in 2020, we decided to leave it all on the field, and by all, I mean almost all of our money. We decided that increasing turnout was more important than job security, and that we would rather be unemployed than watch our country descend further into fascism. So we didn’t finish the year with a financial buffer, but we did finish 2020 with a mostly intact democracy.

So now we’re building up our war-chest again, starting with funding for this battle with Georgia. If Georgia gets away with this, other states will follow suit, and they won’t stop with absentee ballot applications: I am 100% certain that the next onerous laws will make it illegal for charities to send out pre-filled voter registration forms. Which will be devastating for democracy.

In the meantime, if you’re able, please consider a tax-deductible donation today. We’re smart, we’re aggressive, and our programs are cost-effective.

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Thank you,

Here’s some early press coverage on the lawsuit.

Read more