- - Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Democrats are playing a long game to quash state election reform and pave the way for their obscene federalized election law fantasy. 

Georgia and its new voting law provide a perfect example of how the left plans to attack future states that dare to exercise their constitutional authority and clean up the mess they created in the 2020 election cycle. Are rational Americans going to push back and finally scream, “Enough!”  Or are we going to roll over and pretend that the left’s political manipulations are simply misstatements that have yet to be retracted? 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — criticized by Donald Trump and other Republicans for his role in delivering Georgia to Joe Biden and finalizing the left’s sweep of Congress — is now being attacked by Democrats for signing into law an election reform package, Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), that is designed to both expand access to voting and implement some well-supported election safeguards.

Rather than assess the bill in its totality, the left chooses instead to nit-pick on some provisions that are taken fully out of context to give the appearance that this new law is … racist. Where is the outrage that the president of the United States, the self-proclaimed “Uniter,” can say that this law is “Jim Crow on steroids?” Does he not understand what the horrendous Jim Crow South was really about? We must stand strong against such irresponsible declarations and make sure people understand what S.B. 202 does and does not do so that we can protect the many good state voting reforms that will follow.

For starters, S.B. 202 is a markup of older law. It does not hide the modifications, additions and deletions it makes to prior law. The Republican majority in the Georgia Assembly is demonstrating transparency. This makes it pretty easy to counter some of the left’s intentionally inaccurate characterizations that the new voting law is designed to suppress voting, “especially among Black and Brown communities.” Judge for yourself:

• Less time to request absentee ballot.

From 180 days to 78 days. The left argues that this shorter window will reduce the number of people who apply for absentee ballots and vote. While this irrationality is not explained, the rational argument is ignored. Think of all the changes that can take place in a six-month window. People can move, die or even change their minds. Reducing the window to apply for a ballot simply cuts down on the opportunity to err or cheat.

• Strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots.

This is a distortion of S.B. 202. What changed from the old law? Subjective “signature verification” has been replaced with objective “identity verification,” which includes the voter’s name, date of birth, address, and Georgia driver’s license number or personal ID card. If the applicant doesn’t have either a driver’s license or personal ID, the voter can provide proof of identity by attaching a copy of any of a long list of items in Georgia Code Section 21-2-417. 

And despite incorrect assertions that non-compliant ballots could simply be “tossed out,” S.B. 202 includes a detailed process for curing. The new voting law even provides access for incarcerated eligible voters to get their “necessary personal effects” to apply and vote by absentee ballot.

• It is “now” illegal to send out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Now? The only time applications were automatically sent out to all registered Georgia voters was during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger mailed them for the primary election. This was never part of a law created by the legislature and signed by a governor.

But because S.B. 202 creates a new online application and states that applications cannot be sent out unless requested, the left is upset that unsolicited applications cannot be used to “remind” people they can vote. They act as if a long-standing right was taken away and fail to mention that it was never illegal. The left is also unhappy that third parties cannot pre-fill applications. Yes, it’s true — S.B. 202 requires that people vote for themselves.

• Drop boxes “barely” exist.

Again, the left pretends that an important element of Georgia voting has been taken off the books. This is completely inaccurate. Drop boxes, like unsolicited absentee ballot applications, were never part of the voting law, so they were actually added in S.B. 202. Drop boxes were approved by the State Election Board in April 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdowns as an accommodation.

Now, drop boxes will be made available in conjunction with the timing of early in-person voting, and the new law provides detailed requirements for the marking, surveillance and collection of drop box contents. The left behaves as if these security attachments around an accommodation will suppress voting, and specifically in minority communities.

And these are just a few examples.

This leftist theater is designed more to make a noise than to make a point. It is actually hurting this country and calling attention to the reality that Democrats will never be satisfied with a voting law passed by Republicans. What do they want? H.R. 1. A voting law passed entirely by Democrats. 

• Denise Cohen is the director of the Center to Protect Elections at the American Conservative Union Foundation. 

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