As a person who had a cult like obsession with the Mueller probe that would make a QAnon believer blush, I can appreciate the annoyingly nuanced effort of getting the facts straight before establishing an opinion. I painstakingly read all 448 pages of the ensuing report as well as all five volumes of the Senate Intelligence Report. After reading and studying it for as long as I did, I can honestly say, that I have a good sense of what’s going on, and why Trump should no longer be in office, or be trusted with nothing more than a golf club, and that’s even suspicious. I say all of this because the most recent election law (SB 202) passed in Georgia is only 95 pages, and should be mandatory reading for anyone who chooses to opine on the matter.
For starters, let’s get something out of the way, and dispel some myths, lies, and rumors about the bill, primarily being pushed by the Biden Administration and Biden himself. Biden in recent weeks have called the Georgia law 'Jim Crow in the 21st Century’ which of course is complete non-sense and hyperbole. First, a quick history lesson (cue Wayne’s World time machine cut scene) The roots of Jim Crow laws began as early as 1865, immediately following the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, and clearly these Jim Crow laws were just the states equivalent to a temper tantrum because they can no longer depend on free labor. Democrats should display some humility when it comes to African-Americans and voting since it was members of their party who opposed civil rights legislation, defended slavery in the 19th century and promoted “black codes” in Southern state legislatures that denied many rights to former slaves. Those were elected Democrats who stood in schoolhouse doors, denying access to black children. Democrat sheriffs clubbed people in the streets during demonstrations and sicced dogs on them, among other indignities. It also was the party that required “poll taxes” and “literacy tests” for blacks, violating their right to vote. Now, no one is above grace, and Democrats have come a long way to advocate for equality, but it should not be forgotten that much of the horrendous racial history in America was promoted by the Democrat party. Which makes me wonder why so many confederate flags end up at Republican events?
Additionally, you’ve heard that this Georgia bill also attacks our constitutional right (insert sarcastic gesture) to be fed and watered while waiting to vote, and again, this is nonsense. The law prohibits the distribution of such items to avoid any perception of “vote buying” or “illegal campaigning” within 150 feet of a polling location or 25 feet of any voter standing in line; this type of activity is called line warming. Here’s the actual excerpt from the bill: “No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector” (pg. 71). Now if a poll worker feels that there may be a long line and there is a concern about hydration, they are permitted to distribute water, “This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing materials, as required by law, which are necessary for the purpose of instructing electors…or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote." (pg. 71)
Now I understand that voting laws are different in each state which makes it difficult to compare apples to apples, but if you are of the mindset that Georgia is a unique situation and purely a Republican led assault on voting rights, it’s important to know that is an incorrect view of our election system. As a matter of fact, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, “As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills tallied as of February 19, 2021 — a 43 percent increase in little more than a month.” I’m not a political scientist, but I’m willing to bet that all 47 states mentioned are not red states. So if the Georgia election laws are, as Biden stated, “Jim Crow in the 21st century” it’s equally important to recognize that there are also some Democrat ran states with similar provisions. But if you want to play partisan politics roughly 80% of the 361 bills to restrict voting were sponsored entirely or primarily by Republicans, according to Five Thirty-eight.
Here are a few examples:
Under SB 202, Georgia will become one of four states that require voters to submit a driver’s license number or other ID number, just like they do in Minnesota, and while they don’t have a trifecta there, Democrats have control of the house and Governor seat.
New York, on the other hand, does have a trifecta and has a similar provision about giving food and drinks to electors. As a matter of fact Georgia’s Republican state Sen. Mike Dugan, said that parts of that provision was based off of New York’s election Law (https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/ELN/17-140)
Now if you’re thinking to yourself, why would Georgia have to pass a bill called the Election Integrity Act of 2021 after an election in 2020 where it would appear, by all accounts, Georgia had one of the most successful elections in their state’s history?
I have some ideas, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But it’s important that you weigh your conclusion against the backdrop of comments by the folks in charge of running Georgia’s elections, such as the Secretary of States Chief Operating Officer and the state’s voting system implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling said in front of a podium in response to Trump’s false claims about to the General election,
"Everybody's vote is going to count," "Everybody's vote did count”.
Or how about this line from the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, where he wrote in a USA Today oped, “A record 1.3 million voters cast ballots absentee by mail here. Another 2.7 million cast ballots in-person during Georgia’s gold-standard three weeks of early voting. Around 1 million waited on lines averaging a minuscule 3 minutes on Election Day. By all accounts, Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election. We finally defeated voting lines and put behind us Fulton County’s now notorious reputation for disastrous elections. This should be something for Georgians to celebrate, whether their favored presidential candidate won or lost. For those wondering, mine lost — my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.”
Now on page 4 of SB 202, the General Assembly gives us some insight into why they are enacting this bill. They state, “Following the 2018 and 2020 elections, there was a significant lack of confidence in Georgia election systems, with many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter suppression and many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter fraud;” The statement doesn’t necessarily reconcile with the previous statements made by the Secretary of State or his Chief Operating Officer. But to use a quote by Raheel Farooq, writer and spoken word artist based in Punjab, Pakistan “Politics is the only art whose artists regularly disown their masterpieces.”
In conclusion, we tend to judge people by their actions not their intent, whereas WE want to be judged by our intent not our actions. So I’m perfectly content to judge the Republican legislature on their intent, I think having integrity and fairness in elections is a noble cause, but it’s difficult to see their actions being consistent with their intent, especially after they spent several months reassuring the public there was no issue. I’d love to hear what you think, I’m not a Georgia resident, so if I got something wrong, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to respond!