either pass H.R. 1 or watch voter suppression bills like Georgia’s become the norm : politics

saprmarksApr 4

I think there’s a lot of false information going around about the GA election law. Here’s something I wrote on Facebook pushing back on this stuff (and towards the end I give my own opinion on the law as a whole):

A lot of what I’m seeing on social media about the new Georgia voting law seems false or badly misleading. This has given me a bad case of “people are wrong on the internet,” so I’m writing this post to push back on some things that seem wrong to me.

Just for fun, let’s do this in FAQ form.

  • 𝗗𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗹𝗮𝘄 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗯𝘆 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗔𝘁𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮 𝗰𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 “𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗹𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘀” 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗱𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗲𝘀?

No. An earlier version of the bill would have restricted early voting on Sundays, but the version of the bill that passed does not. Counties can have up to two Sundays of early voting.

No, it increases the number of drop boxes, and let me explain why there’s so much confusion about this. Before 2020, Georgia had no ballot drop boxes. Then in 2020 there was this crazy global pandemic thing and Georgia allowed emergency use of drop boxes. Without the new law, things would go back to the pre-2020 status quo of no drop boxes. Instead, this law mandates drop boxes, though not as many as were used in 2020 (unless the pandemic emergency is still ongoing).

In other words, when people claim that the law decreases the number of drop boxes, that’s true relative to 2020, but not true relative to what would happen if this law weren’t passed.

Kind of, but this lacks important context. The law forbids giving “money or gifts” including “food and drink” to voters; the point is to stop people from campaigning at the polls by e.g. giving out bottles of orange juice labeled “GO ORANGE: VOTE FOR TRUMP” or whatever. Other states, like New York, have an identical law — if you don’t think those states are engaging in inhumane voter suppression, you probably shouldn’t think Georgia is either.

The text of the bill makes it clear that this is an anti-voter intimidation measure. I’m not a lawyer, but I would be surprised if you would get in trouble for giving water to your grandma.

Also, the law makes an exception explicitly allowing “self-service water from an unattended receptacle.”

No, and I’m really confused why people keep saying this. If you don’t have a Georgia driver’s liscence or ID, you can instead use the last four digits of your SSN. If for some reason you don’t have that, you can instead use a utility bill, paycheck, or other official document that shows your name and address. This seems the same as (or more lenient than) absentee voter requirements in other states (e.g. it’s the same for me in Massachusetts), and I’m not sure why I keep seeing claims otherwise. I think people might just be misreading the bill?

I don’t think so. The previous law said that early voting would take place during “normal business hours,” and the new bill replaces that with “9 a.m. through 5 p.m.” as part of a push towards state-wide standardization. If that’s not enough, local officials can extend it to 7am through 7pm. They can’t extend it longer than that without a specific reason, but I guess I’d be surprised if any polling places used to keep longer hours for early voting anyway.

[I’m gonna stop refuting things and just do more FAQs now.]

  • 𝗗𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝘄 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗲𝗰𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗶𝘀𝗹𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲?

Yes, it does, and this 𝘪𝘴 a potential cause for concern. The Secretary of State is removed as a voting member of the election board, a body mostly composed of members selected by the legislature (though there are restrictions, like that the members can’t be political donors). I don’t really know the reason for this, and I’m inclined to dislike it since I have a lot of positive affect for SoS Raffenburger after he stood up to Trump.

  • 𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀𝗻’𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝘄 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹, 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗹, 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗚𝗲𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗶𝗮?

I disagree — on the whole, I think that this law makes it much easier to vote in Georgia (relative to if the law hadn’t been passed). Some things it does which make it easier to vote: mandate an extra Saturday of early voting, create absentee ballot drop boxes, and mandate the precincts whose lines are too long be divided into smaller precincts for the next election. Also, and this is pretty important, 𝗶𝘁 𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗶𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴, which was a major cause of absentee ballots being thrown out.

There 𝘢𝘳𝘦 some changes which seem mildly restrictive, like shortening the window to request an absentee ballot, but I think these are outweighed by the good things it does.

  • 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗹𝗮𝘄 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗲, 𝗶𝘀𝗻’𝘁 𝗶𝘁 𝗯𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘁 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀𝗻’𝘁 𝗴𝗼 𝗳𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗲𝗿-𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗲 (𝗯𝘆 𝗲.𝗴. 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲 𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗚𝗲𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗶𝗮𝗻)?

Sure, this is fair. I guess I’m frustrated because I think Georgia passed a good law which made it easier to vote, and then everyone got whipped up into a frenzy, started baselessly claiming voter suppression, and called for boycotts of Georgian businesses. When someone does something you like but doesn’t go far enough, it seems like you should go “this is a step in the right direction, but I’d like more,” not lie and claim they’re making things worse. Wouldn’t it be sad if next time the GA legislature wants to expand voting access they don’t go through with it because “well, last time we tried to expand voting access we were accused of racist voter suppression and a bunch of business fled the state, better not do 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 again”?

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