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Jon Ossoff's GOP opponent Karen Handel supported disenfranchisement of Black voters in Georgia

You might remember Karen Handel, the Republican whom Jon Ossoff trounced by 30 points in the Georgia special election, from her work at nearly destroying the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, but she has plenty of other dirty tricks up her sleeves, as well. As a Komen foundation vice-president in 2012, Handel led the […]

By Tommy Christopher - April 19, 2017
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Karen Handel

You might remember Karen Handel, the Republican whom Jon Ossoff trounced by 30 points in the Georgia special election, from her work at nearly destroying the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, but she has plenty of other dirty tricks up her sleeves, as well.

As a Komen foundation vice-president in 2012, Handel led the way for that organization to strip away funding for Planned Parenthood, resulting in a furious backlash against the charity even after they restored the grants and Handel resigned. The charity’s contributions declined sharply, and still have not rebounded to pre-scandal levels.

And in addition to her membership in the Republicans’ extremely unpopular crusade against Planned Parenthood, Handel also boasts disenfranchising Black voters on her CV.

In 2008, following a Supreme Court decision upholding an Indiana voter I.D. law, then-Georgia Secretary of State Handel spoke in support of the decision, and bragged of her own efforts in Georgia:

HANDEL: Let me just inject something here. I’m Karen Handel, Secretary of State from the state of Georgia. I’m pleased to be here in support of the state of Indiana and Secretary Rokita on what is indeed a very common-sense step forward in protecting the integrity of the elections, not just in the state of Indiana, in the state of Georgia, but across the United States.

REPORTER: What is Georgia doing to kind of ease the burden, to help voters get out there and get the I.D.?

HANDEL: We know we’re making an impact, because we have issued the free photo IDs, just as the state of Indiana’s ID is a free ID, to some 6,000-plus individuals.

According to a Brennan Center study, 11 percent of voters lack photo ID, including 25 percent of Black voters. That means that in Georgia, with a Black population of about 3.3 million, Handel is about 810,000 voters shy of protecting the voting rights of Black Georgians.

But as one Georgia state legislator recently admitted, that is the entire point: Whether through gerrymandering, voter I.D. laws, or other means, the ultimate aim is to disenfranchise Black voters, who are more likely to vote for a Democrat.

But even with all of their attempts to violate the rights of their own citizens, Georgia Republicans still could not get within 30 points of Ossoff, and the voters of the district will have another chance to make things right in June, during the runoff election. Based on their record so far, it would not be prudent to bet against the resistance.


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