Is the new Georgia voting law racist? This law was recently passed by the Republican controlled Georgia State legislature on strict party-line votes and was signed by the Republican Governor. In order to answer the question of racism, we need to understand how voting is carried out in Washington State and then contrast it with the Georgia voting law.
Before that question can be answered, a broader, more important question must be asked: Why did Georgia change its voting procedures when it did, just a few months after the 2020 presidential election?
The Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, first defended the integrity of the 2020 election results, telling then-President Trump that the election results were both “fair and secure”. Additionally, two recounts were made, one by hand, that confirmed that Joe Biden had won the electoral votes by a margin of about 12,000.
Raffensperger then supported the new law, saying that it was an overall boost for election security. It added four voting procedure changes, according to an April 9, 2021 NPR article by Ailsa Chang and Emma Bowman entitled “Georgia Secretary of State Says New Law ‘Restores Confidence’“: Voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, expanded access to early in-person voting, mandated shorter runoff period times, and reduced wait times.
Why also did Republicans in 47 other states submit bills to their legislatures to change voting requirements? The obvious answer was that they didn’t like the presidential election results. Republicans fared well in both and the U.S. House and in many state legislatures, but Donald Trump lost the election.
Requiring voter ID seems to be just adding a hurdle to voting. In Washington State, all ballots are mail-in and no picture voter ID is required. Why do Georgia Republicans require it when few cases of fraud have been found in their state? The argument for photo IDs should be based upon data, not feeling.
In Washington, no one has to request a ballot if they are registered to vote. There is no waiting in line. Postage is paid for by the State. Secure ballot boxes are abundant. No voter identification is required. No party has been found to be disadvantaged by voting by mail. Security and safeguards are in place to avoid fraud, such as signature checking. Vote by mail has worked quite efficiency and fraud free for a decade in this state, since 2011.
The new Georgia law making it a crime to hand out food and water to waiting voters is absurd, even if poll workers can hand them out. Also, limiting the voting times from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or no later than from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. benefits Republicans since working-class Democrats usually work until 5 p.m. or later whereas Republicans often have more freedom to vote during the day.
The goal of Washington State election officials is to get as many voters as possible. There is no such thing as “quality votes,” as one Arizona Republican lawmaker recently asserted. This statement implies that those who vote Republican are “quality” while those who vote Democratic are not. No definition of “quality” was offered.
Why is Georgia so backward in its voting rules, and why are Republicans so fearful that they tried to fix a system that was both fair and secure according to their own elected officials in the 2020 election?
Based upon several statements by President Trump and by an attorney who answered a question by Justice Barrett in a Supreme Court trial about the reason for throwing out ballots delivered to a wrong precinct, Arizona GOP attorney Michael Carvin responded, “It puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to the Democrats.”
But is racism the reason?
The obvious answer seems to be “it depends.” It’s all about power. That is certain. Republicans lost control of both the presidency and the Senate.
It’s clear that several parts of Georgia’s new voting requirements disadvantage Blacks, other minorities, and the poor, making it more difficult for them to submit their ballots, limiting, for instance, the number of secure ballot boxes in the state. Many Blacks and poor people have a more difficult time getting to those boxes because of a lack of transportation.
The Republican Party is in crisis. It abandoned its morality to support Donald Trump’s authoritarianism. It is a party deeply divided with no guiding principles except to win. Republicans are looking to the past because facing the future foretells that they must either change or die. They’re in deep denial. Racism is part of our national past that many Republicans are desperately clinging to. Changing demographics will likely settle the question for them, whether they like it or not.