Two Republican mantras are alive and well in Georgia: If you cannot win fairly, cheat. If that fails, restrict voting of the people who will never vote for you. The Georgia legislature is unhappy that the state is being represented by two Democrats, so they are changing the rules. You can read HB 531 and decide whether Republicans are “restoring public trust in elections and bolstering security” or whether this is yet another instance of voter suppression. Keep in mind that many experts, including Trump’s chief of cyber security, said that 2020 was one of the most secure elections in history. The only “public trust” that was lost in the 2020 election were those who believed the lies about voter fraud. Accordingly, people are not happy with these proposed changes that will make voting more difficult.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution the bill was introduced to the public last week, allowing them to weigh in. Georgia voters “pleaded” with the legislature to quash this bill. Several witnesses testified, and the majority said that this bill will create burdens on voters who will then not bother to vote. If passed, HB 531 will eliminate Sunday voting, which is a direct dig at Black churches that hosted “Souls to the Polls” events in 2020 and would allow early voting only on one Saturday. Further, the bill will limit early voting to in-person, eliminate absentee voting without cause, and close early voting sites after business hours. Nancy Flake, President of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, told AJC that this bill specifically targets low-income people of color who either have issues with transportation or work long hours, taking away the convenience they enjoyed during the 2020 cycle. Without that convenience, many of these people will likely not vote at all, which is exactly what Republicans want.
Election officials told the legislature again that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the last election cycle, yet Republicans claim they want to prevent any possibility of problems. How do you prevent something that did not happen? This is all bullshit. These lawmakers are merely showing their disdain for the results of the last election and want to ensure it does not happen again. Adding insult to this injurious bill, Republican lawmakers have also proposed making it illegal to bring food and water to people waiting in line for hours. This bill is punitive action for last year’s turnout.
Poy Winichakul of Southern Poverty Law Center spoke to AJC: “The motivations behind this bill are suspect because it was introduced immediately after Georgia voters generally, and especially Georgia voters of color, tremendously increased their absentee voting.” This is obviously true. Every area this bill targets allowed Democrats to send Warnock and Ossoff to the Senate. Now that Perdue is considering running against Warnock, Republicans must ensure that he wins. Not one of these Republicans questioned the results of their own elections, which occurred in the same cycle, so is the alleged fraud selective? Of course not. This is nothing more than voter suppression at its worst.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years