We have to thank the Republicans who control Georgia.
They did America a big favor in their blatant, outrageous effort to kill democracy in the state by putting on public display Republican efforts across America to destroy, at all costs, one of the most basic tenants of our democracy: the right for every citizen to vote.
In addition to making it harder for older folks and minorities to vote, their decision to criminalize handing out food or water to people waiting in line for hours to vote put a glaring light on their inhumanity… and the reality of their true intention: to stifle the vote.
And why is drinking water important to their “kill-the-vote” effort? In last June’s primary election, polling places in majority-Black neighborhoods made up just one-third of Georgia polling places but accounted for two-thirds of those that had to stay open late to accommodate long lines. Observers see the new restriction as an attempt to curb voting by urban voters and people of color who lean Democratic and whose precincts often have long lines to cast ballots.
According to a study reported in the Washington Post, the average wait time in Georgia after polls were scheduled to close on June 9 was six minutes in neighborhoods that were at least 90 percent white, and 51 minutes in precincts that were at least 90 percent non-white.
NOW IT’S WORSE
Long seen as a politically red state, Georgia turned blue in this past election as President Joe Biden and two Democratic senators won narrow victories, boosted in part by heavy turnout among Black voters. Georgia Republicans couldn’t stand it and set about passing restrictions to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.
Georgia’s new “stifle the vote” law:
- Increases ID requirements for absentee voting.
- Bans mobile voting places and/or limits the use of ballot drop boxes. (They now can’t be located outdoors or available outside regular business hours).
- Prevents voter mobilization groups from sending absentee ballot applications to voters or returning their completed applications.
- Compresses the time period before runoff elections and, in doing so, eliminates guaranteed weekend early voting hours impacting workers who can’t make it to a polling place during normal work hours.
- Gives the Republican-controlled legislature authority over local elections officials that would allow them to “fire” local officials and take over (and change?) election results.
Georgia Republicans say the new restrictions are needed to prevent voter fraud.
This despite the fact that their own Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (who former president Trump attempted to pressure into changing the state’s vote totals from the 2020 presidential election) declared Georgia’s election system a “gold standard” for the U.S.
NOW ACROSS AMERICA: DEMOCRACY AT STAKE
Georgia is hardly alone. Republicans in 47 states have introduced some 361 different pieces of legislation to restrict voting. Some of them have already passed.
Missouri is included in that number with Republican-sponsored bills that seek to impose new voter ID restrictions –– requiring that voters show a government-issued photo ID or cast a provisional ballot that would only be counted if the voters return later that day with photo IDs or if election officials can verify their signatures based on voter records –– and change the initiative petition process, making it harder and more expensive for citizens to use the process to overturn bad legislation or reform state government.
Dangerous lies about “voter fraud” have wrought dangerous consequences. Until we change the balance of power in the Missouri legislature, voters will be the losers.
TO RESCUE DEMOCRACY
The answer to protecting our American heritage of voting is to pass HR 1, federal election reform legislation pending on Capitol Hill, that would restore common sense and fairness to voting for everyone.
Known as HR 1 in the House, where it passed in early March, and S 1 in the Senate, this vitally necessary bill would, among other things, increase voter registration and voter access, end gerrymandering through independent redistricting commissions, and reduce the malign influence of big and dark money in politics by radically changing the way our campaign finance system works.
Of course, Republicans are already trashing it. What a surprise!
Until we pass HR 1, this will continue to be a dangerous time for the survival of our democracy. Perhaps the most dangerous in our history.