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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Why Are Democrats Complaining about the New Georgia Election Law?

             Numerous state legislatures have been writing new laws to tighten election laws after the disaster known as the 2020 presidential election. Georgia’s new election law brought condemnation from President Joe Biden and other Democrats who claim that the law brings back the old Jim Crow era. There are many Democrat talking points being repeated by the various politicians and media organizations. They claim that the new law will restrict or limit voting by black and brown voters.

            Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal sought to show the difference between the six key myths being spouted by Democrats and the facts about Georgia’s election legislation signed by Governor Brian Kemp last Thursday. 

1. “Restrictions on Casting Absentee Ballots”

[Myth] In his written statement, Biden said of the new law: “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.” …

For its part, Fair Fight Action, the group run by [Stacy] Abrams, asserts: “Over 200,000 Georgians lack the appropriate ID under SB 202.”

[Fact] The law does require voter ID for individuals who are casting absentee ballots, which previously was not the case. A vote would need to provide a driver’s license number or another state identification number on the absentee ballot form.

The law also requires voters to request absentee ballots [at least] 11 days before the election. In its previous form, the law allowed voters to request ballots by the Friday before Election Day….

The earliest that Georgia voters may request an application for an absentee ballot will be 77 days before Election Day, down from 180 days….

Kemp said that 96% of Georgia voters already have suitable voter ID, and alternative identification would be provided at no charge to those who need it. [The law states the following:]

“In order to verify that the absentee ballot was voted by the elector who requested the ballot, the elector [voter] shall print the number of his or her Georgia driver’s license number or identification card…. The elector shall also print his or her date of birth in the space provided in the outer oath envelope.

“If the elector does not have a Georgia driver’s license or state identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, the elector shall so affirm in the space provided on the outer envelope and print the last four digits of his or her Social Security number in the space provided on the outer oath envelope.

“If the elector does not have a Georgia driver’s license, identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, or a Social Security number, the elector shall so affirm in the space provided on the outer oath envelope and place a copy of one of the forms of identification set forth in subsequent (c) of Code Section 21-2-417 in the outer envelope."

2. “Crime to Provide Water”

[Myth] Biden and Democrats have been spreading this myth. Biden said the following in his formal statement about the law: “It makes it a crime to provide water to voters while the wait in line – lines Republican officials themselves have created by reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.”

[Fact] Georgia’s law prohibits campaign workers from distributing food or drink, or anything else of value, to waiting voters, and from setting up a table within 150 feet of the building or 25 feet of a voter…. The law specifically allows official poll workers, as opposed to campaign workers, to provide water to voters.

Specifically, the law says: “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, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.

… “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 distributing materials prepared by the Secretary of State which are designed solely for the purpose of encouraging voter participation in the election being conducted or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.” …

As to Biden’s charge that Republicans are creating long lines to vote, the new law provides “additional voting equipment or poll workers to precincts containing more than 2,000 electors.”

3. “It Ends Voting Hours Early”

[Myth]In his written statement Friday, Biden said: “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”

[Fact] The new Georgia law does nothing to change Election Day voting hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although it expands weekend voting before Election Day.

… The law itself states:

Requiring two Saturday voting days and two optional Sunday voting days will dramatically increase the total voting hours for voters across the State of Georgia, and all electors in Georgia will have access to multiple opportunities to vote in person on the weekend for the first time.”

4. “Render Drop Boxes Useless”

[Myth] Abram’s Fair Fight Action organization said the law, known as Senate Bill 202, would “render drop boxes ‘useless’ and otherwise harm voters across the state.” …

The law states:

“A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall establish at least one drop box as a means for absentee by mail electors to deliver their ballots to the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk.

“A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk may establish additional drop boxes, subject to the limitations of this Code section, but may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county. Any additional drop boxes shall be evenly geographically distributed by population in the county."

5. “Jim Crow 2.0”?

[Myth] Upon the Georgia Legislature’s passage of the bill, Abrams … said…: “Republican state leaders willfully undermine democracy by giving themselves authority to overturn results they do not like. Now, more than ever, Americans must demand federal action to protect voting rights as we continue to fight against these blatantly unconstitutional efforts that are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”

… Biden later tweeted a similar assertion. “It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century – and it must end.”

[Fact] … Putting aside what is or isn’t acceptable political hyperbole, Jim Crow has a literal historical legacy.

Factually, the term Jim Crow laws refers to state and local laws in the segregated South that existed from after the Civil War until at least the mid-1960s.

With regard to voting, these laws included requiring poll tests for black voters before they could cast a ballot. These overtly racist laws also restricted employment and educational opportunities for black Americans.

Schools, parks, recreation facilities, and other public buildings routinely were segregated throughout the South, as were public restrooms and water fountains. The Jim Crow era included terrorist activity by the Ku Klux Klan, which committed violent and deadly acts against blacks such as lynchings, often with impunity….

6. “Legislative Takeover”

[Myth] Abram’s Fair Fight Action says Georgia’s new law would “allow legislative takeovers of local boards of elections, and much more.”

[Fact] The fact is that under the new law, the state Legislature does indeed have an increased role in the State Election Board under the new law.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s secretary of state will have a diminished role. This is the basis for the claim that partisan politics could play a role.

“The secretary of state will no longer chair the State Election Board, becoming instead a non-voting ex-officio member,” Georgia Public Broadcasting explained. “The new chair would be nonpartisan but appointed by a majority of the state House and Senate.

“The chair would not be allowed to have been a candidate, participate in a political party organization or campaign or [have] made campaign contributions for two years prior to being appointed.”

            I do not know much about Georgia’s prior laws, but I do offer my opinion about the Democrat talking points following the signing of the new law. The new law in and of itself seems like common sense and something that any person desiring fair and honest elections could support. The fact that Democrats at all levels – including the White House – are complaining about the new law tells me that the law was much needed. There is a good chance that Democrats in Georgia used the old law to commit fraud in prior elections. Now that the law has been changed and tightened, it will be more difficult for them to cheat.

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