Atlanta Mayoral candidate Mary Norwood has alleged that she has received reports of voting issues and “intimidation” in connection with the December 5th runoff election.
Many voters have come forward to describe the administrative problems and voter intimidation that occurred on Election Day. If you experienced a problem when you cast your vote, contact the Secretary of State using their Stop Voter Fraud website: https://t.co/e1Q0ILFA3Q
— Mary Norwood (@marynorwood) December 7, 2017
She had also alleged that voting issues were responsible for her loss to Mayor Kasim Reed in 2009.
Election results are expected to be certified on Monday. Norwood cannot officially request a recount until the vote has been certified. Whether or not Norwood can reverse the outcome in her favor, allegations of alleged voter interference and “intimidation” adds a new wrinkle that has a far-reaching impact beyond this election.
In her tweet, Norwood directs people alleging issues to fill out a form on Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s “Stop Voter Fraud” site. As with her prior conversation on alleged voter issues, Norwood fails to raise issues or express concern with the Secretary of State’s issues with voter suppression and his focus on non-existent voter fraud. She did not initially provide any statement distancing herself from Kemp on this issue or clarifying.
The confusion over her allegations is clear when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution characterized her 2009 allegations as claims of “voter fraud.” To be clear voter fraud is not a widespread issue, and confusing the term with election fraud or voter suppression furthers Republican narratives that ultimately deprive marginalized groups of access to the ballot.
Kemp’s cooperation with the Trump voter fraud sham commission, as well as multiple lawsuits challenging his purging of voters and one where voter data was subsequently deleted warrants a strong statement from the would-be Mayor. As a “progressive” independent Norwood should exert greater care to not feed into Republican fear mongering in terms of non-existent voter fraud.
It is understandable that Norwood is upset about losing not once, but twice. However, her blatant disregard for the ways in which the current Secretary of State is interfering with voting access statewide is problematic. She further fails to acknowledge that “administrative” issues exist in many other cycles, not just the one important to her success. She and her team are being careless in the willingness to create a panic for potential points.
If voters are having issues then that needs to be clearly stated so it can be addressed accordingly. Otherwise, Norwood’s efforts feed into what she claims are false narratives of her as a closet Republican.
We need a clear path forward to address issues of voter suppression and election integrity. Norwood’s tweet, similar to her prior comments, was socially and politically irresponsible.
Mary Norwood Digs in for Battle
The Atlanta Mayoral election is the election that never ends. Former Councilwoman Mary Norwood still has not received the outcome she desires. Although votes in Fulton and DeKalb counties have been certified and recounts completed, Norwood refused to concede. She claims the recount was insufficient as it was only a recanvass of votes.
As previously reported by R. Robin McDonald, Norwood by way of her attorneys issued a letter laying out areas of further investigation as well as the necessity for a more thorough recount of the runoff vote. Norwood only has a short window within which she can legally challenge the election. Among those allegations, Norwood contends that votes from a small South Atlanta area community were invalid.
Loch Lomond was annexed into the City of Atlanta last year around the same time that the City of South Fulton was established. There is an ongoing dispute on whether the annexation of five areas was valid, raising concern about the validity of votes from the Loch Lomond area. Litigation concerning this issue was recently remanded back to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Ahead of the November 2016 general election, there were 325 registered voters in Loch Lomond. It is unclear how many voters are currently registered in this area and voted in the 2017 Atlanta general election or runoff. From the Fulton County precinct map, the area is a part of precinct 11B went 86% for Bottoms. Considering the year-long battle over whether this area is a part of Atlanta, it is interesting that Team Norwood never made this connection before her loss. They seem to be following a kitchen sink approach, hoping something finally sticks to undo the Bottoms’ win.
Court challenges over this annexation along with other areas in Southwest Fulton County have been going up and down the judicial system over the past year. Collectively members of City Council, several of whom ran of Mayor including Norwood, should have known or had reason to know of the annexation issue.
It will be interesting to see the response from the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections in regards to verifying boundaries and eligible voters. The Board had no problem purging properly registered voters this summer ahead of the Atlanta general election. Where was this concern for people’s lawful right to vote from Team Norwood then?
Also, Team Norwood has not raised concern about possible inappropriate votes in the DeKalb County portion of recently annexed areas. While that annexation did not raise the same concerns, there could still be issues with mistakes regarding boundaries and people allowed to vote who should not have otherwise. This latest turn in the post-runoff challenge reeks of desperation and is bad optics all around.
As Team Norwood scrambles to find a way to undo the election or at least erode the margin, Mayor-elect Bottoms is moving forward with her transition plan. At some point, one has to say enough is enough and move on.
This article was originally posted at Peach Perspective in 2 separate articles:
- Mary Norwood Makes Reckless Voting Allegations, originally published Dec 9.
- Mary Norwood Digs in for Battle. Will the Atlanta Mayoral Runoff Ever End? Originally published December 16.