On Wednesday’s CNN This Morning, as the show had on Washington Post reporter Matt Brown to discuss the Georgia Senate runoff, co-host Kaitlan Collins asked Brown about his article tying the runoff system to White segregationists who designed it in the 1960s.
Neither mentioned that these segregationists were Democrats as Collins vaguely called them “conservative White candidates,” and Brown’s Post article completely scrubs the word “Democrat” even though it recounts that “Republicans” in recent years have tweaked the system for self-serving purposes.
Collins brought up the article and quoted from it:
But you wrote a fascinating article about how Georgia’s runoff system “was created to dilute Black voting power,” and you said that the “enthusiastic adoption” of this two-round voting was a way of “ensuring,” once upon a time, that “a conservative White candidate” won the election. What’s it like to see what happened last night, knowing the history of the runoff election here in Georgia?
Brown commented that it was “ironic” as he recalled that elections had been “designed to effectively make sure that, you know, in a past era, a conservative White majority would be able to consolidate against the Black political voting power in the state.”
In the actual article, titled, “Georgia’s runoff system was designed to dilute Black voting power,” Brown begins: “Tuesday’s showdown between Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is the product of an unusual general election runoff system that was pushed by a powerful Georgia segregationist who sought to blunt the power of Black voters in the 1960s.”
In the rest of the 1,644-word article, which was mostly about Southern Democrats who tried to limit Black power in the 1960s, the word “Democrat” was not used at all. But, in the last few paragraphs, Brown did specify that “Republicans” had made reforms in recent years for self-serving reasons.
Without informing viewers that Democratic Senator Wyche Fowler was defeated in a 1992 runoff after he came in first place with less than 50 percent of the vote, Brown vaguely stated that the “state legislature changed the threshold for a runoff, requiring a candidate to win at least 45 percent of votes instead of 50 percent.” Not mentioned was that it was a Democrat legislature that made the change, and that the change worked as planned, helping Democrat Max Cleland get elected Senator with just 49 percent of the vote in 1996 as the Libertarian candidate drew more than three percent.
But then, as he recalled politically motivated changes made by Republicans, Brown was forthright in specifying which party took those actions: “But Georgia Republicans changed it back in 2008 after narrowly losing a Senate race in 1996. The effort was led by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), whose cousin, David Perdue, narrowly lost a 2021 runoff election…”
The Post reporter soon added: “In 2021, Georgia Republicans passed a sweeping and controversial voter law that shortened the time between an election and a runoff from nine weeks to four, leading to confusion and stress for election administrators.”
Brown managed to get in a Jim Crow reference as he concluded with calls by liberals for ranked choice voting instead of a separate runoff:
“It needs to go. It needs to change,” said Hillary Holley, executive director of Care In Action, a voting rights and labor group. “It is a relic of Jim Crow, it is suppressive, inefficient and is also fiscally irresponsible. It needs to just go away.”
The segment on CNN was sponsored in part by The Farmer’s Dog. Their contact information is linked.
CNN This Morning
December 7, 2022
7:10 a.m. Eastern
KAITLAN COLLINS: But I want to talk about runoffs overall because we have seen these runoffs happen now in Georgia twice. We had the one with Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue that sent Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate. Now we’ve had a runoff again — it feels like Georgia voters are constantly going to the ballot box. But you wrote a fascinating article about how Georgia’s runoff system “was created to dilute Black voting power,” and you said that the “enthusiastic adoption” of this two-round voting was a way of “ensuring,” once upon a time, that “a conservative White candidate” won the election. What’s it like to see what happened last night, knowing the history of the runoff election here in Georgia?
MATT BROWN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think that there’s a deep irony to the fact that two Black men were competing here in Georgia for a seat in a race that was designed to effectively make sure that, you know, in a past era, a conservative White majority would be able to consolidate against the Black political voting power in the state. I think that it’s very important to note that runoff systems are, you know, inherently still a democratic election, but, when coupled with what you saw in a past era of Georgia’s election systems with, you know, a whole bunch of other unfair policies and whatnot, it made it so that it was very easy to make it so that it was just another barrier for people to have to turn back out and vote.