“Racially motivated patterns of voter suppression are responsible for Stacey Abrams not being governor of Georgia right now.”
— South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), in remarks in Bow, N.H., Oct. 25, 2019
It has become an article of faith among Democrats, especially those running for president, that Stacey Abrams was narrowly denied the governorship of Georgia because of voter suppression. It is equally an article of faith by Republicans that this is a false claim based on no evidence.
Buttigieg’s remark caught our attention because he specifically said that the voter suppression was racially motivated and that it tipped the balance toward Republican Brian Kemp — who was directly responsible for overseeing the voting because he retained his post of secretary of state while he sought the governorship.
But it turns out this is a difficult situation to fact-check, and not quite as easy as the case when we gave Four Pinocchios to Hillary Clinton for claiming she lost Wisconsin in 2016 because of voter suppression or Four Pinocchios to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for claiming Russian efforts to suppress African American votes led to Clinton’s loss of Michigan. …
Hasen, the UC Irvine expert, said the practices used under Kemp raise serious questions even if one cannot prove they affected the election outcome.
“There is no question that Georgia in general and Brian Kemp in particular took steps to make it harder for people to register and vote, and that those people tended to skew Democratic,” Hasen said. “I have seen no good social science evidence that efforts to make it harder to register and vote were responsible for Kemp’s victory over Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial race. That seems to me to be beside the point: The question is whether Georgia had a good reason to put these suppressive measures in place, and for the most part, the state did not have good reasons.”