Let’s be clear: voter suppression - it is not about the bottled water. It’s about deliberately throwing up roadblocks making it more difficult for some people to vote, and if that does not work, putting the “fix” in so the Georgia Legislature can override legal votes should they not like the outcome.
In the last election cycle, the Georgia GOP saw unprecedented results for Democrats that left GOP heads spinning. What drove Democratic victory for the Biden/Harris ticket and the US Senate Runoff? A swell in new voter turnout in metro/urban counties like Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and others. These new voters strike fear into the heart of the GOP.
It is the fear of suffrage, the fear of diversity and the fear of an inclusive Democratic agenda that compelled the Georgia GOP to legalize voter suppression. Governor Kemp signed into law a bill that restricts access to the very voters who elected President Biden, Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff.
And while Kemp continues to spin the idea that the GOP law does not restrict votes, let’s look at what SB202 really does to voters in Cobb County and other urban/metro counties across the state:
- It significantly reduces the number of absentee ballot drop boxes in Cobb from 16 to 5. One ballot drop box per 100,000 registered voters or per number of early vote sites, whichever is fewer.
- It requires that absentee ballot drop boxes be located inside early vote sites, reducing accessibility from 24 hours/7 days a week up and until 7 p.m. on Election Day to more restrictive early vote polling site hours only. Dropboxes will be inaccessible on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day and on Election Day itself.
- It voids the use of provisional ballots for out-of-precinct voters on Election Day outside the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day voting locations are constantly in flux and notification of these changes is significantly lacking across the State, but particularly in metro counties, routinely catching voters unaware. Additionally, the flexibility afforded with in-person early voting to vote anywhere in the county is not extended to Election Day voting, causing mixed messaging and confusing voters.
- The window for requesting an absentee ballot has been nearly cut in half, with reliance on a US Postal Service whose delivery times have been greatly impacted by deliberate failures in the Postal Service Administration.
- In practical terms, this law does not expand in-person early voting in Cobb or the other metro/urban counties. Weekend voting has been an option allowed under state law going back several years. Cobb has exercised this option by offering two Saturdays of in-person early voting already.
If these suppressive measures fail to produce desired outcomes, the Georgia GOP has taken it one step further. SB202 places the State Board of Elections under the influence of a GOP-dominated, gerrymandered Georgia legislature. The Secretary of State, an elected constitutional officer, has been demoted as the Chair of the State Board of Elections and relegated to ex-officio, non-voting administrative status. In his stead, the Georgia legislature will appoint a Chair and two additional members to the five-member Board. This politically reconstituted State Board of Elections has been given the authority to take over county elections boards if they are deemed to be underperforming at the discretion of one political party who may not like the projected outcome of the election.
And while the Governor and state GOP feign disgust at Major League Baseball and turn to drinking Pepsi, they disparage the business community for speaking out in support of voting rights and democracy. Let’s face it, this was never about election integrity. It is about the GOP canceling democracy to remain in power.