Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Does the New Georgia Election Law Bring Back “Jim Crow Laws”?

             Democrats, liberals, and progressives use the “race card” whenever they cannot win with ideas and policies, and President Joe Biden is no different. In discussing the latest election reform bill in Georgia, he claimed that the Jim Crow laws of the “Old South” were returning. Nothing can be further from the truth.

            According to Hans von Spakovsky at The Daily Signal, the claims of Jim Crow laws are insulting and have to do with two of the provisions of the bill. He wrote that critics of the bill apparently did not actually read what the bill said. If they did, they do not “understand that similar provisions already exist in federal law.” 

            In an effort to educate the critics, von Spakovsky discussed the two provisions. The first one is a requirement to provide an ID to receive an absentee ballot. There is already a law in Georgia – in place since 2008 presidential election – with the requirement of showing “a government-issued photo ID” to vote in person.

When a federal judge threw out the lawsuit against the law in 2007 (amid similar “Jim Crow” comparisons), he specifically noted that in two years of litigation, the challengers could not produce a single resident of the state who would be unable to vote because of the new ID requirement.

Georgia provides a free photo ID to anyone who doesn’t already have one. We have more than a decade’s worth of Georgia’s turnout data in election after election that graphically shows that the ID provision does not prevent anyone—including minorities—from voting. Simply extending the ID requirement to absentee ballots is a much-needed, commonsense reform that voters support.

            Von Spakovsky continued with his explanation about why the new law is not a new Jim Crow law. Section 25 of the bill says that a voter can write “the number of his or her Georgia driver’s license or identification card” on the application for the absentee ballot. Any voter without a Georgia ID card can “provide a copy of a form of identification listed” in another code section of the Georgia law (§ 21-2-417(c)). The other acceptable forms of identification are “a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of such elector.” That language came from the Help America Vote Act of 2002 approved by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

            Von Spakovsky then explained the second provision about the provision of food and water being given to voters at the polls. Georgia does what most other states do – they prohibit electioneering inside or within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voters waiting in line to vote. The previous law prohibited the solicitation of “votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material” within such distances. Section 33 of the new bill added “nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gift, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to any elector” within such distances.

In other words, a candidate and his campaign staffers can’t show up at a polling place with a truckload of pizzas and sodas and start giving them to voters standing in line. The clear intent here is to prevent campaigns, candidates, and political operatives from unduly influencing or bribing voters with money or gifts, including food and drink.

Similarly, federal law (52 U.S.C. § 10307also prohibits paying or offering to pay anyone to register to vote or to vote. In fact, this ban was part of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965.

According to the U.S. Justice Department’s handbook on “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses,” this statute has been broadly interpreted to apply to “anything having monetary value, including cash, liquor, lottery chances, and welfare benefits such as food stamps.”

The idea that Georgia is somehow doing something nefarious by preventing gift-giving at the polls is bizarre and ignores the unfortunate, long history we have of this type of corruption and undue influence being used in our elections.

            The State of Georgia is attempting to “protect the security and integrity of the election process.” The criticisms of the law are meant to mislead the citizens of Georgia by using the race card once again. Since Black voters approve of voter ID laws by a high percentage (70%), any reasonable person would assume that the race card should be dropped.


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