Opinions Editor discusses Georgia’s new voting law, photo courtesy of Flickr.
Gov. Kemp signed a voting bill into law on Thursday that aggressively slashes the rights of Georgians.
The bill was fast-tracked through the Georgia legislature this month and supported by the Georgia Republican Party. The new law includes several ways to undercut Georgian’s constitutional right to vote.
The law makes it more difficult to register to vote and makes it much easier for registrations to be challenged by opposing parties. Additionally, it includes provisions that make going to the polls themselves even harder for Georgians.
The Georgia GOP has made it a crime to give voters food and water while they wait in line to vote. This practice, known as line-warming, has become increasingly popular in states where polling locations are scarce and lines are extremely long. In the last decade, Georgia has become one of those places due to the GOP axing polling places across the state.
Some voters in Georgia have to wait several hours in line, and line-warming helps them survive the line. The state party that champions Christian values and Southern hospitality is now throwing people in jail for showing generosity and human decency.
These changes to Georgia’s voting law come after Democratic President Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 Presidential Election. Subsequently, Democratic Senators Ralph Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their state’s runoff special elections in January of this year.
This “Blue Wave” victory has largely been credited to voting rights activist and former Georgia Representative Stacy Abrams. The Republican Party, however, points to the battleground state’s flip as a victim of a rigged election.
“The only connection that we can find is that more people of color voted and it changed the outcome of elections in the direction Republicans do not like,” Abrams said.
Abrams and other voting rights activists have referred to the law as “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” This law will disproportionally affect Black voters in the state, making it reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws from a century ago.
The president referred to the new Jim Crow laws as “sick” and designed specifically to disenfranchise voters.
“This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” Biden said.
Biden also spoke on how these laws essentially discard the need for good representatives. The merit of a candidate is unimportant to the Georgia GOP. These laws make campaigning useless because it clearly does not matter who the candidate is or what they have done for their community. It only matters who the legislature wants elected, and they will push through laws to make sure that happens.
The law itself unholds claims that the GOP rammed it through in order to prevent Black voters from exercising their constitutional right.
The party claims the law will help make voting more secure, but numerous elections officials on both sides of the aisle have put to bed the conspiracy that the 2020 Presidential Election was in any way fraudulent.
Saying that the election was rigged because more Black voters showed up for the Democrats, demonstrates the embedded racism in the law.
Other additions to the bill include requiring a copy of the voter’s photo ID when casting a ballot by mail and banning organizations from sending out absentee ballots to registered voters. In a pandemic, these provisions will be disastrous for voter turnout.
With proof that the election was secure, it does not make sense to try to shut out voters. The Georgia legislature has already introduced a couple hundred restrictive voting bills this year.
The GOP is scrambling to make up for the group they lost in the House, Senate and White House. They are combatting historical voter turnout by abusing the system and the people they swore to serve.
When more voters– no matter the party affiliation– show up, that should be a win for democracy. That should not be a signal to tighten voter registration laws. It should be a sign to celebrate the foundation of our nation. The real frauds in Georgia are the legislators fighting to disenfranchise voters.