Attorney Poy Winichakul was before the Georgian Legislature’s Special Committee on Electoral Integrity about 12 minutes after her testimony. She summarized how 47 states that used postal ballot papers had never discovered “widespread fraud” and how this was the case for Georgia in the 2020 elections. “Postal voting fraud,” concluded the Southern Poverty Law Center proxy, “is even less of a problem than being struck by lightning.”
Representative Barry Fleming, chairman of the committee, asked her, without missing a blow, “What are the chances of being struck by lightning?” Winichakul said she didn’t have the figure. Fleming, who is also a lawyer, said, “It sounds like you’re admitting there is Election fraud. ”
So went the deliberations that led Georgian lawmakers to pass a 98-page electoral law on March 25 after Fleming introduced a bill that went through multiple versions in the House, passed to the Senate, and days before the signature of Governor Brian Kemp received the legislature ended. The legislation has generated reactions ranging from moving the all-star game of Major League Baseball out of the Atlanta suburb (it will be held in Denver) to three lawsuits against the state alleging the law would kill blacks and brown voters who helped turn Georgia disproportionately burden blue twice in the past few months by voting for Joe Biden and electing two Democratic senators. The law allows the legislature controlled by the GOP, among other things, to take over local electoral departments.
Much has been said about the law in the past few weeks, but little about Fleming Republican legislature, the force behind it. “It was his move; He ran it, ”said Representative Rhonda Burnough, one of four Democratic members of the 14-member committee, all of whom are also black.
The legislature’s policies and strategies are not just a case study of what happened in Georgia, but also how the 250-plus GOP ballots currently under scrutiny in 43 states can end up as laws. Fleming has been in office for nearly two decades to shape the elections in Georgia and advocates measures that restrict access to the ballot box and externally call for virtues such as “uniformity” and “integrity” and against “fraud”. According to colleagues and supporters of voting rights, his leadership style includes interrupting, gas light, dog whistling, and frowning from experts who disagree. Fleming did not respond to requests for comment.
Its legislative report contains a history of attempts to exercise control over electoral processes. He supported the legal coding of the “Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud” offenses in 2005 and a Voter Identification Act in 2006. He sponsored a law to shorten early voting periods for local elections in 2014 and authored the Exact Match “System In 2017, voter registrations were put on hold if they did not exactly match Social Security or DMV records – a system that 53,000 people, 70 percent of whom were black, according to a USA today analysis. Most recently, he chaired a commission in 2019 that disregarded the advice of some of the country’s top computer scientists against the type of electoral system the state had bought.