Also known by the ironically counter-intuitive name, the Election Integrity Act of 2021, this piece of state legislature from the Deep South state of Georgia has ripped through the sociopolitical landscape of the United States; it is, without much argument, authoritarian and democratically disturbing to say the least.
In response to the Republicans’ failure to recapture the House of Representatives nor hold the Senate or the Presidency — under the reign of Donald Trump, seen since January 20, 2017 to be a guy who praises dictators and lashes at democratically elected leaders… so pretty typical of the behavior I’m about to follow up with — party politicians in federal, state and local government have been (and are currently) in a sprint race to implement electoral legislation which can limit as much as possible the Democratic vote in time for the 2022 midterms or the 2024 Presidential elections. These limitations on Democratic voters, by extension, include targeted and heavy discrimination against black, Latinx, LGBT+ and other minority voters who favor the party for its progressive rights-based policies. The most outrageous of these laws is the aforementioned Election Integrity Act, which you’ll hear widely referred to as Georgia S.B. (or ‘Senate Bill’) #202.
Firstly, as annotated by The New York Times, the law cuts in half the time to request an absentee ballot… the method used by people who are not willing to enter the polling station and was widely used in the November 2020 general election due to the COVID-19 pandemic (favoring Joe Biden, who urged voters to vote-by-mail as opposed to Donald Trump who urged his electorate to ‘get out and vote’). This is their attempt to lower the amount of Democrats who vote in upcoming elections because of their fear of catching the virus, which most Republicans don’t believe even exists (or is a conspiracy by Biden and the Chinese Communist Party or something) anyway.
The most outrageous provision of the legislation as has been pointed out by demonstrators, protestors, and activists globally is the ban on handing out water to folk in a queue. Nationwide lawmakers and governors have purposefully cut the number of polling stations for districts with majority Black voters, with NPR saying that “Georgia’s voter rolls have grown by nearly 2 million people, yet polling locations have been cut statewide by nearly 10%,” shown by an analysis by Georgia State Broadcasting and ProPublica. This extends queues because of more voters going to one station, and therefore (especially on a warm day) this looks like one of the cruelest parts of S.B. 202.
The situation we are seeing today has been made worse than it potentially could have been by the 2013 unconstitutionality ruling on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — Shelby County, AL v. Holder — and two of its most key sections, which outlined that the federal government needs preclearance (warning the DOJ) that the state will change its voting laws, and that the determination of preclearance was subject to the county’s record on discrimination in the past. Since then, no landmark voting laws except the For The People Act 2021 (which is not a signed piece of legislation and is in limbo at the moment) have legally come to its replacement.
Additional impacts to absentee ballot voting include mandatory identification which includes a drivers’ license, social security number, or similar piece of ID given by the state, which is largely seen as a way to limit how many voters are able to apply and receive the ballots. Also now forbidden is the use of third-party groups to fill out applications, which is assumably targeted at disabled people, those with learning difficulties, or some reason along this realm.
Worst of all — yes, worse than banning water — is the ability for Republican lawmakers to overrule, seize and annex election boards in Democratic counties. This is understandably alarming because, as Zack Beauchamp from Vox notes, anti-democratic Republican politicians in the state of Georgia can and will be “disqualifying voters and ballots as they see fit,” in future elections and that this “is a small-’d’ democrat’s nightmare,” which notifies us that this isn’t just a partisan dig at Democrats, this is a dig at traditional democratic beliefs of, with liberty, electing leaders and representatives, and is a total American spinoff of authoritarianism. This, may I warn, is the definition of fascism.
When it comes to religion, Republicans have found a way to take a bowling ball to that too, by having out with early voting on Sundays, which is a popular time and method for Black voters because of religious church ceremonies which take place that day, with it being the Lord’s day of rest and communal worship. This is blatantly racist and resemblant of the Jim Crow laws — the Apartheid-like disenfranchisement and segregation of Blacks and minorities in the Southern United States.
The other less important but still completely atrocious provisions of the Election Integrity act include the removal of the Secretary of State from the State Election Board, a likely assault on the man currently holding the role — Brad Raffensperger, who refused to comply with Donald Trump during an hour-long phone call that proved to be one of the most scandalous events of the former President’s entire administration.
Coupled up altogether, we have less time for absentee ballot requests, a ban on giving water, mandatory IDs for said ballot requests, a ban on third-party groups filling applications for the disabled, learning difficulty persons and et cetera, banning the GA Secretary of State from the Election Board, eradicating early voting on Sundays because of communal worship by Black voters, and some more that I didn’t even address. These could limit votes from Blacks, Latinx, Asians, LGBT+, the disabled, and those with difficulties by more than tens or hundreds of thousands, which signals a larger sociopolitical emergency in modern American society since segregation and the Cold War.
The bill, after passing the state House and Senate, was signed by Governor Brian Kemp in an office with, photographed rather infamously with a grand image (not in its depiction nor content) of a slave plantation behind him and also surrounded by his handymen, of whom it is hard to distinguish either who is who or why they four out of the six of them are concurrently balding in the same pattern, at the same stage, and at the same time. This occasion also gave social media’s form of birth to this video of a Black Democratic state lawmaker, Rep. Park Cannon, being arrested by GA’s Capitol Police for knocking on the door of Kemp’s office while the signing was taking place:
Verdict? A racist, blatantly authoritarian, Jim Crow piece of legislation racing for political power because Republicans are well-aware the tables are turning against them… and they’re only making it worse for themselves with their stupid excuses for bringing to law the Election Integrity Act.
Giving out water on a particularly hot day has nothing to do with election fraud. And if you bring to me the point that people queuing to vote is election fraud in itself, there is something seriously politically wrong with you.
As previously mentioned, this is a flagrant disregard of democratic beliefs at the hands of conspiracists, with several monopolizing news outlets and wealthy folk at the forefront of theories on elections, voting rights, constitutional law, Biden’s presidential capacity, and more, with those people or organizations including (but not exhausting) Donald Trump, his son Don Jr. and the other family members, Fox News (see reference 14), OANN, Newsmax, former Cabinet and cabinet-level members like Kayleigh McEnany, The Epoch Times (who’s articles are all sign-up/paywall blocked for me), The Federalist and others. “Cave to the liberal mob,” is the language we’re gonna be hearing for a while, so I propose to you sitting down, grabbing the popcorn, and watching it all pop off. And also, hey, gotta love “truth-based” journalist sites slamming “corporate media” when they themselves are corporate media.
- ‘SB 202’, Georgia General Assembly
- ‘Georgia election law prevents African American, Latinx, others from exercising the right to vote’ — Jackson Lee, Sheila (Rep D-TX); The Hill
- ‘Biden’s voters appear far more likely to vote by mail than Trump’s (…)’ — Rakich, Nathaniel; FiveThirtyEight
- ‘Why do nonwhite Georgia voters have to wait in line for hours? Too few polling places’ — Fowler, Stephen; National Public Radio (NPR)
- ‘Why do nonwhite Georgia voters have to wait in the line for hours? Their numbers have soared, and their polling places have dwindled’ — Fowler, Stephen; ProPublica
- ‘Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney-General, et al.’ — United States Supreme Court
- ‘H.R.1’ — For the People Act of 2021' — United States Congress
- ‘Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, explained’ — Beauchamp, Zach; Vox.com
- ‘What is fascism?’ — Broich, John; The Conversation
- ‘Georgia Republicans seek to end Sunday early voting, a popular election method for Black voters’ — Dorman, John; Business Insider
- ‘Georgia’s governor signed ‘Jim Crow’ voting bill under painting of a slave plantation’ — Wicker, Jewel; The Guardian
- ‘Trump begs Georgia secretary of state to overturn election results in remarkable hourlong phone call’ — Smith, Allan; Jester, Julian; Thompson, Priscilla; NBC News
- ‘Trump’s tweets: infamous, offensive and bizarre posts by [Donald Trump]’ — Sky News
- ‘Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. amplified claims of election fraud, analysis shows’ — Sanz, Catherine; ABC News
- I can’t actually believe this one, and I’m ashamed to have it as a reference — ‘(…) SR1, Senate version of House voting rights bill, will silence generations of American voices’ — Cuccinelli, Ken; Fox News Opinion
- ‘Sen. Cruz: Democrats’ election bill ‘designed to expand voter fraud’’ — One America News Network (OANN)
- ‘Sen. Tom Cotton to Newsmax TV: MLB placating liberal ‘mob’’ — Thomas, Jim; Newsmax
- ‘Kayleigh McEnany, keen purveyor of Donald Trump’s lies, lands plum new Fox News role’ — Moran, Lee; Huffington Post
- ‘No, Washington D.C. can’t be a state, no matter how much the Democrats would like to ruin the Constitution for political power’ — Davis, May; The Federalist