Georgia Republicans Devise Unbelievably Transparent Plan To Suppress Black Vote
Georgia Republicans, we would have to imagine, are not too happy with Donald Trump losing their state in the 2020 election. We would also have to imagine that they are not too happy about their two brand new Democratic Senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, either. Whatever are they to do?
Well, they could work really hard to earn people's votes and encourage their own base to come out and vote even though their base is now convinced that there is no point in voting because evil Democrats and random Italian IT guys will steal all of the election — but that would involve a lot of effort on their part. Instead, they have decided to go old school Jim Crow on a bill very blatantly aimed at decreasing the black vote.
NEW: the Georgia House Special Committee on Election Integrity is meeting at 3 this afternoon and just added HB 531… https://t.co/GA3mapsZB7— stephen fowler (@stephen fowler)1613674511.0
The Republicans claim that the 48-page bill is simply meant to create voting uniformity across the state, which — unless one is specifically trying to make it harder for certain people to vote — is a patently ridiculous idea, as different areas have different needs because they have different size populations. Taliaferro County only has 1,717 people in it. It would not make sense for them to have the same set-up as a county with almost a million people in it. That would be ridiculous.
There are already massive differences in the amount of wait times to vote in Georgia, with voters who live in predominantly black areas having to wait significantly longer to vote than voters in predominantly white areas, due to a lack of polling places. This, surely, would make that worse.
The bill would seriously limit early and absentee voting, limiting weekend early voting to one Saturday and specifically prohibiting early voting on Sundays. While the bill doesn't explicitly say why they've decided Sundays are out, it is notably a day when Black churches frequently have "Souls to the Polls" voter drives.
Like other bills making their way through the GOP-controlled legislature, there would be a new photo ID requirement for absentee ballots. In HB 531, voters would need to include their driver's license number, state ID number, or a copy of acceptable form of photo ID. The driver's license number or state ID number is already required for the newly created online request portal, and photo ID is required to vote in person.
But the proposal would also shrink the window voters can request an absentee ballot and limit the timeline that county officials can mail them out. No absentee ballot could be requested earlier than 11 weeks before an election or later than two Fridays before the election, and absentee-by-mail ballots would not be sent out until four weeks before day of the election.
The bill restricts the location of secure drop boxes to early voting sites, and limits the use of those drop boxes to just the days and times where early voting takes place. Another section would ban county elections offices from directly accepting outside funding for elections, coming after the Center for Tech and Civic Life and the Schwarzenegger Institute gave tens of millions of dollars to counties across Georgia to run the November and January elections amidst a pandemic.
This is not the first time Georgia Republicans have purposely and blatantly sought to limit the impact black voters have on an election while thinking they are being very sly about it. They have long been big fans of racial gerrymandering, so much so that for many years they were prohibited, by the Voting Rights Act, from redistricting without the approval of the Justice Department.
The bill itself was written only by Republicans, without any input from House Democrats or the community at large — they likely don't feel they have to, because in Georgia, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Governor's seat. Clearly, they intend on doing everything in their power, no matter how obviously racist or nefarious, to keep it that way.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse