Citizen Challengers Face Coordinated Effort to Undermine and Discredit
Won’t back down to smears or intimidation
GEORGIA: True the Vote helped to bring citizen challenges in counties across Georgia seeking verification of addresses and therefore validation of the vote, in the currently underway special election. As a result of that, more than one concerned American citizen is facing tremendous backlash.
What happens when an American citizen requests that their government make sure the votes being cast in an election are legal, valid, timely, and verified? In some ways that’s a complicated question.
It’s complicated because the answer can involve, in great detail, an explanation of the exact processes and procedures that take place under the law when the validity of a ballot or a voter registration is challenged. Complicated because those processes and procedures can vary by state, and even municipality. And it’s complicated because, by the very nature of the enormous machinery of our Democracy, it is often the case that even those charged with operating it are themselves intimidated or even mystified by the mechanical workings of electoral government.
But in another and equally real way, it’s not that complicated of a question. Because as aware citizens, who see the news and read what happens, we know that the mere act of speaking up about government, or to government, can result in a torrent of feedback, in support or against, that can rage for days or longer via our interconnected society.
In the 2020 election, it is an understatement to say that the terrain is rocky when discussing the validity of a vote. With legal challenges among and between states, battles before the court of public opinion as well as the Supreme Court itself, and rhetoric from partisans as high as it has ever been, just getting involved can have loud consequences.
That has been especially true in Georgia, where the special election runoff that will decide the composition of the Senate has become a singular focus.
It is into that environment that concerned and patriotic citizens of the state, each to their own county of residence, have partnered with True the Vote to effort an accounting, a very simple one. That is, to simply challenge and request verification of the residency of a large number of voter records that show a change of address. It is a question of residency that is routinely the subject of government inquiry, and is by law a responsibility of that government.
The fact of this practical matter, however, does not change the emotion surrounding raising the subject. And we are sad to report that the reaction has been decidedly negative for some of those citizens, bordering on harassing or dangerous.
Take, for example the experience of former public servant and former United States Marine Ron Johnson, which we have written about here.
Johnson in good faith brought challenges to his county, in the hopes simply of validating the addresses of purported residents for whom a change of address has been file: a responsibility of the County Board of Elections and Registration.
That challenge was dismissively tossed by the board, as the video shows, in a hostile meeting during which Johnson was threatened with physical removal by the chair, who was decidedly more cooperative and forgiving on procedure when the county’s Democratic party chair spoke up.
Then there is Caesar Gonzales, a former candidate, the son of an immigrant, and a longtime resident of Douglas County.
Gonzales filed his challenges in accordance with the law and by proper procedure. Mr. Gonzales was rewarded for his effort with multiple “abusive” phone calls from the Director of the Elections Board Milton Kidd.
Mr. Gonzales reports that he had to leave town unexpectedly, to visit a dying relative. Having told that to the board, they nevertheless held the meeting to dismiss his challenges without him.
The board not only voted against him, but characterized him as being part of a partisan attack, even going so far as to have the ACLU rebut him in absentia. “I was insulted and accused =of being a liar,” Mr. Gonzales said, “and I wasn’t even there to defend myself.”
A summary of the meeting was posted to Facebook, and the link was sent to Mr. Gonzales after the fact.
But the mocking and condescending treatment of these upstanding members of their communities is not the far extent of reaction.
In the case of Gordon Rhoden, chairman of the Athens Republican Party, his challenges were met not just with scorn but with a virtual hit squad.
The Georgia Star News reports that Elections Board Chairman Jesse Evans open the meeting by reading aloud from a laundry list of left-wing political interest groups as they attacked Mr. Rhoden’s character and the character of the challenges.
“The list was a who’s who of far-left groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, The Georgia League of Women Voters, and NAACP of Georgia,” writes the Star, “all of whom claimed that disqualifying the voters would not only amount to voter suppression, but might be against federal law.”
Flagpole adds that “Susannah Scott, president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia, called [the challenges] an ‘obvious and unwarranted attempt to suppress voter turnout’ in an email to the board.”
All three men report that they have been accused of dishonesty, disloyalty, and particularly racism, in having brought their challenges.
That campaign to smear and intimidate isn’t limited to individuals, it’s part of a broader effort ongoing in Georgia.
The reaction across the state from officials – almost exclusively Democrats or Democrat-appointed – has been an exasperated annoyance at being asked to perform their duties to the best of their ability, and the concerns of citizens were treated as an inconvenience and interruption, to be dealt with quickly and with disdain.
That is not what a free and fair election is supposed to look like, and that is not how election officials are meant to discharge their duties.
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True the Vote (TTV) is an IRS-designated 501(c)3 voters’ rights organization, founded to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.