The impossible scheme

Georgia, one of the 10 most-populous states in the nation, has a voting age population of close to 8 million, and more than 7.5 million registered voters. The largest source of that voter registration is automatic registration for anyone applying for a driver’s license, with the Georgia secretary of state’s voter registration and My Voter Page website in second place.

“Motor Voter,” as the practice of tying voter registration to driver’s license application is called, has added millions to the voting rolls in Georgia and elsewhere. Begun during the 1990s, principally by Democratic governors, legislatures, and secretaries of state, that practice and other voting access expansions were more recently driven and delivered by the GOP.

In Georgia, no excuse-absentee voting, up to three weeks of early voting and electronic voting all became realities under Republican governors. A GOP president actually suggested the use of drop boxes rather than using the U.S. Postal Service, for fear that the post office might purposefully not deliver thousands, or even millions of sealed ballots coming from areas with a high number of potentially GOP voters.

Many may remember the popular song from the musical The Man of La Mancha, the lyrics defining Don Quixote’s inspired quest and his Impossible Dream. And while I would much rather vote for Cervante’s fictional Quixote than either of the likely party standard bearers this fall, each is making the linchpin of his campaign taking a different track around an impossible scheme – to steal the White House with a rigged election or to end Democracy by voters making the wrong choice.

Stop the steal
MAGA advocates still beat the drum of a 2020 stolen election, with millions of fraudulent ballots and a crooked vendor flipping ballots in multiple states. Dominion Voting Systems, the dominant electronic election system hardware and software supplier here in Georgia as well as all or part of 28 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada, ended litigation with Fox News for defaming its company and spreading false information about the 2020 contest with Fox agreeing to a settlement payment of $787 million to Dominion.

Election balloting and the tabulation are by design decentralized. Each precinct has individual voting machines, each with its own memory and internal tabulation. The results of each voting machine are read and reported at each precinct after polls close. Georgia’s 159 counties, each with its own board of elections and elections superintendent, manage roughly 2,500 precincts on Election Day, staffed by more than 50,000 poll workers. All polling places must be handicap accessible and due to school safety concerns increasingly do not take place in public school facilities. The Dominion equipment also requires strong and secure Wi-Fi to use the I-Pad sign-in tablets and facilities with significant electrical outlet capacity, as each voting machine with its own printer is now required.

Precinct results are relayed to the county elections office on election night. Each county retabulates and officially certifies those unofficial results from each precinct, and then relays those results to the secretary of state’s office as they are being tabulated. Following Election Day, all results are first certified by each county, then later recertified and checked by the secretary of state’s office (which maintains those secured tally sheets on file). In the case of the 2020 presidential contest, in Georgia there were three separate recounts, two by machine and one by hand. The results were completely unchanged in 103 counties. That final hand tally recount tabulated more votes for Joe Biden. The former vice president’s lead increased to 12,284 votes. The variance between the machine and hand count was 0.1053 percent.

End of democracy?
The GOP frontrunner clearly does not bridle opposition well and reminds some of Mussolini, perhaps with better hair. This nation has survived many a bad leader in the White House, from Richard Nixon and Watergate, to Herbert Hoover and the stock market collapse of 1929 as well as Andrew Johnson’s earlier impeachment to name only a few.

Regardless of who wins a return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, enough defenders of our democracy and constitutional republic will remain in office. I name the governor of Georgia as well as our secretary of state as only two examples, and though times may seem grim, our nation and free and open elections will survive. The global stakes may well be higher, and media focus and social media drama certainly don’t help, but the outcome of this contest will not end, either way, with our U.S. Constitution atop the trash heap. There are issues that really do matter to millions of Americans, and are challenges that can be solved, or at least improved upon.  How about we focus a bit more on those?

Bill Crane is political analyst and commentator in metro Atlanta, as well as a columnist for The Champion, DeKalb Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can contact him or comment on a column at bill.csicrane@gmail.com.

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