- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Sept. 18

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on voter fraud:

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp embarrassed himself over public allegations he recently made concerning widespread voter fraud.

Earlier this month, the Republican office-holder told an Atlanta TV station that a preliminary investigation by his office revealed “significant illegal activities” by the New Georgia Project, a Democratic-led effort to register voters before the Nov. 4 general election. These acts included forged applications and signatures and forms with inaccurate information.

That’s serious stuff.

Keeping the ballot box sacred is fundamental to a healthy democracy. If the system isn’t secure, the one-man, one-vote principle goes out the window. It opens the door to stolen elections.

But on Wednesday, Kemp ate some serious crow.

During a hearing in front of the five-member Georgia Elections Board, Kemp’s chief investigator said that there was no evidence of massive fraud by the New Georgia Project.

Instead, out of 85,000 applications that the group submitted to Kemp’s office, only 25 cases were bogus, chief investigator Chris Harvey said. He deemed another 26 “suspicious.”

That’s 51 cases total. If each of the suspicious cases turn out to be phony, which means the actual fraud rate is .0006 percent. That’s hardly “significant.” It’s probably in the ballpark for what you’d expect if you cast a wide net to get people to sign up for something.

To be sure, all false forms must go to the waste heap. But Kemp’s goof-up was taking a few isolated cases, then sprinting before TV cameras and making a mountain out of a molehill.

Republicans in Washington have been right to criticize the Obama White House for using the Internal Revenue Service as a political hit squad. Republicans in Georgia must make sure that their own house is in order and that the Secretary of State’s Office isn’t used the same way.




Sept. 22

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on Federal Reserve:

What exactly is the Federal Reserve Bank hiding?

It must be something pretty spectacular, considering how hard Fed bureaucrats and Democratic politicians are working to keep the nation’s central bank shrouded in secrecy by rejecting Congress’ calls for an independent audit.

In all seriousness, there might be nothing diabolical lurking within the confines of this century-old institution. But the fact that nobody knows is precisely why a Federal Reserve audit is needed.

It’s beyond stupefying that a creation of the federal government wielding such massive influence over the U.S. economy has been allowed to operate in the shadows since 1913.

Fortunately, sunlight is beginning to filter through the Fed’s windows.

The House recently passed a bill requiring the comptroller general to conduct the first-ever audit of the Fed’s board of governors and 12 regional banks within one year.

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., passed with major bipartisan support 333-92.

It was a version of the bill introduced in 2012 by former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve.

Paul’s son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced companion legislation in the Senate, where it and a mountain of other bills have stalled under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Hope that changes after the November midterms.

Broun said the bill will help “usher in a new era of transparency in this nation’s monetary policy. The Federal Reserve is a creation of Congress, and it must therefore be subject to the oversight and regulation of Congress.”

Aside from a handful of prominent Democrats - such as U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland - the loudest objections to increased transparency at the Fed is the Fed itself.

Americans know imperiousness spreads when government operates in the shadows. Recall that a partial audit of the Fed in 2011 - a provision of Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation - revealed the central bank issued more than $3 trillion in foreign banking loans without congressional approval or oversight from 2007 to 2010.

If that little gem was unearthed by a partial audit, what might a comprehensive one uncover? Perhaps there is something diabolical lurking within the Fed after all.

Americans simply will not know until they have a peek.




Sept. 21

The Times, Gainesville, Georgia, on politics hijacking the polls:

This may seem a naive and silly question, but bear with us as we ask: When did voting itself become such a partisan issue?

American politics always have been divided by ideologies, from the days the Founding Fathers debated how to structure the Constitution. That hasn’t changed much over the years, to a present day when the two major parties, like lumbering behemoths bashing each other with clubs, can get nothing done over their stifling gridlock.

Yet now, the feud isn’t just confined to what candidates say during their campaigns and do once they get into office. Now it has infiltrated the very act of electing them.

This has played out in recent years across the country amid court battles over stricter registration standards and photo ID requirements. In our state this fall, two new conflicts have emerged over the push for Sunday voting and one group’s attempt to register minority voters.

Several counties in metro Atlanta and elsewhere plan to open the polls on Sunday, Oct. 26, adding to the recent practice of early and Saturday voting. The aim is to make voting more accessible and convenient, and thus encourage more people to take part.

Some Republicans criticize the plan as an attempt to attract mostly Democratic voters, since the counties taking part have large African-American populations, with a few large black churches joining the effort. Republican state Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody said he’d prefer more educated voters than a greater turnout, which begs the question: Why can’t we have both?

Meanwhile, a group called the New Georgia Project was able to sign up some 85,000 new voters in a statewide registration push, only to have their efforts called into question and investigated by the Secretary of State’s office for potentially bogus forms. The inquiry so far has found 25 confirmed cases of registration fraud and 26 others that appear suspicious, though the probe continues.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp said there is no concerted effort to target the group or any voter demographic. But as with the debate over photo IDs, many claim Republicans are trying to retain majority control by keeping black voters, who traditionally support Democrats, at home during the election.

If that’s true, is it motivated by pure racism, like the poll taxes and the like from the Jim Crow eras, or just plain old politics? Fact is, if black voters sided with GOP candidates in greater numbers, the shoes likely would be on the other foot. And that still wouldn’t make it right. If members of one party don’t like how some people vote, they should work harder to win them over, not try to shut them out.

Our ability to select candidates in a democratic republic (lowercase each) is what separates us from banana republics and rule by tyrants. No one should play politics with it, from either side.



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