The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement on the Georgia Primaries
Today is another sad day for democracy. Our elected leaders have failed to provide fair, accessible, inclusive, and safe voting conditions for Georgia voters on Election Day. Among the many issues, Georgia voters—primarily in densely populated areas like Atlanta—reported excessive lines and delays, a shortage of qualified poll workers, and malfunctioning equipment.
As an organization that is committed to protecting the voting rights of students, we were disturbed to receive first-hand accounts from our student Ambassadors of voters forced to congregate in large numbers at chaotic and under-resourced polling locations. This violates every CDC guideline created to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and is nothing short of voter suppression. It is dangerous, unacceptable, and un-American.
With five months remaining before the general election, it is imperative that Georgia audits today’s egregious issues and adequately prepares for the November 3rd elections. Just as the mishandling of the Wisconsin 2020 primary saw so many of the same mistakes now repeated in Georgia, the nation must heed the call for election security and modernization.
Our research shows that, in addition to what we witnessed today in Georgia, there continue to be deliberate barriers to voting in many states across the country, particularly for students and voters of color. To this end, we offer the following recommendations to protect student voting rights and to safeguard the health of our citizens and our democracy:
- Create multiple, complementary, and inclusive avenues for voting, including but not limited to expanded no-excuse vote-by-mail opportunities, CDC compliant and properly resourced polling sites, and more diverse poll workers;
- Ensure prepaid postage for all election-related materials;
- Automatically mail ballots to all citizens who are eligible to vote;
- Work with colleges and universities to forward absentee ballots to relocated students at the addresses where they are temporarily living, and modernize related systems to allow students to request mail-forwarding by phone and email;
- Work with colleges and universities to ensure that temporarily displaced students can provide an on-campus residence keeping with their intended domicile and in keeping with the college’s Census reporting system;
- Work with colleges and universities to expand in-person voting options such as, where appropriate, by placing polling sites on-campus and developing youth poll-worker programs;
- Waive voter identification requirements for students where strict voter identification laws exist, particularly in light of COVID since vulnerable communities are already disproportionately impacted by such requirements, and where DMV operations have slowed or shut down altogether, along with analogous college systems which have a limited capability of issuing compliant student voter ID cards where applicable;
- Implement an extensive, multilingual, and multiplatform statewide public awareness campaign to inform students and the public of how and when they can vote. This includes providing colleges and universities with instructions for students that explain in clear terms how students can vote;
- Extend the deadlines for voter registration, absentee ballot requests, absentee voting, and change of address;
- Expand provisional ballot voting and ballot protection, including when a voter turns up at the wrong polling station;
- In light of studies that show that absentee ballots cast by younger and minority voters are rejected at substantially higher rates, provide notice and cure opportunities for rejected absentee ballots;
- Provide more resources that are allocated equitably across polling stations, particularly where polling places are situated in traditionally vulnerable communities;
- Conduct timely post-election audits that are publicly posted and that take into consideration factors including but not limited to race, gender, age, location, and wealth.