Raphael Warnock is turning out to be an effective, caring senator. Together with Georgia’s other senator, Jon Ossoff, he has supported bills that directly impact the citizens of Georgia and our economy. Instead of going out on crazy tours to encourage people not to be vaccinated or purposely blocking legislation that will benefit the American people, Georgia’s senators are doing what they were elected to do. According to Vox, Senator Warnock is at it again. He has introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act of 2021, which is designed to combat Georgia’s Republican voting suppression bill, SB 202.
One of the worst aspects of SB 202 is that the Republican-controlled elections board can at will replace any county’s election supervisor and replace that person with someone of their choosing. This would give them the ability to disqualify voters, arbitrarily move polling locations, and refuse to certify results. It is a good thing they did not do this prior to 2020, or they would likely have refused to certify the results in Georgia—both the national and local elections. According to Vox, SB 202 goes even farther.
This new legislation gives Republicans full control of elections in Georgia, ensuring that four of five seats on the elections board will go to Republicans if they control both chambers of the state legislature, which they have done since 2005. This legislature also effectively removes Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as head of the board, which is retaliation because Raffensperger refused to go along with the big lie. Yet, Raffensperger defends this bill. Go figure. While SB 202 claims to protect election officials from arbitrary removal, it allows any removal determination to be made by Republicans. How fair of them. Senator Warnock’s bill will prevent this removal by placing ultimate determination in the hands of federal judges, and if the removed official prevails in court, his or her legal fees will be paid by the losing side.
The bill will also make it a felony to intimidate or harass election officials and would further allow criminal charges to be filed against overly aggressive election observers. While the proposed bill is not perfect—as we cannot necessarily trust federal judges to be non-partisan—it is at least a step in the right direction. It is certainly better than doing nothing, which will allow Republicans to run elections as they see fit, and we all know who will benefit.
According to Vox, Warnock is currently in negotiations with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin, who is apparently in agreement with the bill. Of course, passage of any voting rights bill will require elimination of the filibuster, to which Manchin will never agree, and Vox points out the judges could refuse to enforce it. How they can do that if it is written into law is not clear, but laws are open to interpretation by judges. With SCOTUS all but gutting the Voting Rights Act, it might not take much for judges to interpret this bill as they see fit.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years