- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Departing Komen VP longtime foe of voting rights advocates
The latest evidence comes from The Huffington Post, which claims to have viewed internal emails confirming Handel’s instigator role, as well as providing this anonymous email from a Komen staffer:
Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria. She said, ‘If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.’
If true, Handel’s role wouldn’t be surprising. In her unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Georgia governor in 2010, Handel ran on an aggressive anti-abortion platform that included attacking her GOP opponent for giving money to Planned Parenthood and promising to cut off funding if she were elected.
Who is Karen Handel? A Republican from Maryland, Handel got her start in politics as deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle’s wife, Marilyn. But her rise to national prominence began in 2006, when she became the first elected Republican secretary of state in Georgia.
Handel’s aggressive changes to Georgia’s election systems provoked a quick backlash. She became a leading figure in the push for a restrictive voter ID bill, which was enmeshed in litigation for more than three years over charges that it disenfranchised African-Americans, Latinos, students and the elderly.
Even more controversially, in 2007 Handel engineered a system to “purge” thousands of Georgia voters who didn’t match Social Security Administration and other government data. The purge system, which a federal panel later ruled had been wrongfully implemented without approval from the Justice Department, identifed more than 200,000 “no match” voters.
But the data was riddled with errors. Misspellings, multiple people with the same name and other flaws generated thousands of “false positives,” with many legitimate voters wrongfully identified — and in some cases removed from the voter rolls.
In the weeks leading into the 2008 elections, Handel stepped up her crusade. Georgia sent letters to 4,770 voters saying their registration was being “challenged.” Handel even went so far as to encourage Georgia residents to challenge the votes of anyone if they doubted their citizenship, a move savaged by voting rights advocates as opening the door to racial profiling and intimidation.
The following year, the Department of Justice ruled that Handel’s no-match law was inaccurate and discriminatory. The DOJ found that by relying of bad data, Georgia may have disenfranchised thousands of perfectly legal voters; according to their analysis:
[Georgia] flagged a large number of persons who have subsequently demonstrated that they are in fact citizens, Indeed, of the 7,007 individuals who have been flagged…as potential non-citizens, more than half were in fact citizens.
The flawed purging was also discriminatory in its impact:
The DOJ also calculated that although blacks and whites made up equal numbers of the newly registered, blacks were flagged 60 percent more than whites. The DOJ similarly found that “Hispanic and Asian individuals are more than twice as likely to appear on the (flagged) list as are white applicants.” In essence the program puts an undue burden on blacks, Hispanics and Asians to prove their citizenship when trying to vote.
Handel’s moves were widely seen as a bungling and heavy-handed in their partisanship; an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial wrote days before the election, “No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election, a loser has emerged — Secretary of State Karen Handel.”
Visit the FacingSouth website for some of the region’s best environmental, economic and political reporting.
- Editor's Note: This article was originally published February 6, 2012, at FacingSouth. Photo by kerphotography via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
This past weekend, my wife Jody and I attended a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac performed at the Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton, Va. Just to hear the language was well worth the one-hundred forty mile round trip. Although I don’t have the skill to read it in the original French, Anthony Burgess’ translation which combines blank verse, prose, and rhyming couplets held our attention for the nearly three-hour performance. He created a contemporary sound for a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand based on an historical seventeenth-century troubadour, dramatist, poet, soldier, and sword-swinging duelist known for his razor-sharp wit and w Read on →
One night about three years ago when Jake was five, I was settling him to sleep with a book about Chicken Licken. I hadn’t met her before but Jake knew her well. When we got to the end of the book and he asked for another story, I was too tired to fetch another book, and didn’t want to disturb his sleepy state, so I made up a variation on this theme. We lay with our eyes closed, imagining. Taking the character’s name in vain, we casually began to invent life situations and adventures for Chicken Licken. “Chicken Licken goes to school” Read on →
But the sacred is something that Liberal America, by and large, has not been tapping into. That was not always true. One can sense the sacred in the words of FDR, for example, engraved in the granite in that memorial on the National Mall. (And FDR was not shy about going toe to toe against his enemies, whether it be to help make the nation a better place or to stop the predations of the fascist powers against much of the world.) That was then. But if one listens to the voice of Liberal America in these times, one does not get Read on →
There were superficial reasons—when he thundered on the political scene at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and then rode on the wave of that thunder to his election in 2008—to compare Barack Obama with Abraham Lincoln. There was the Illinois connection, for instance, and the gifted orator connection, and the “new birth of freedom” connection. Add to these the evident high esteem, even reverence, held by Obama for that towering mentor of his spirit, and it is easy to link the two of them. But what about things deeper than the surface? A sobering intimation arose in me, in the wake of the Read on →