Is GA bill SB 241 modern-day voter suppression?
- On Monday, March 8, the Georgia Senate passed SB 241 eliminating absentee voting as the 2020 presidential election, there was a record breaking number of absentee mail in votes, totaling 1.1 million, and 1.2 million in-person voters in Georgia.
- SB 241 limits absentee ballots to people who are older than 65, physically disabled, working outside of their district during the three-week early voting timeframe, have a religious holiday coinciding with Election Day, are election workers, and military/overseas voters.
- Former President Trump’s rebuttal of the election results was the catalyst for Georgia’s new voting bill. He believed Georgia to be one of the states in question of his election loss, although the election was verified after multiple recounts.
- Democrats worry the bill is a “willingness and embrace of damage to American democracy” and some believe it is an effort to “suppress minority voters.” Republicans argue the bill is necessary after “Georgia’s November election sparked national scrutiny of the state’s voting practices and multiple ballot recounts.”
In a time when expanded access to voting through early and absentee procedures has proven so popular and necessary due to the pandemic, one wonders why Georgia Republicans would move to limit these options for future elections. When the most recent election has been labeled the “most secure” in modern history, why would lawmakers enact new restrictions around voter identification? The answer is simple: Georgia’s SB 241 is modern-day voter suppression, designed to systematically deny Black, Brown, and poor people access to the ballot by making voting more difficult.
In 2020, Georgia had a record turnout largely due to expanded early and absentee voting. Given the traditionally low turnout of voters in the United States, it simply makes no sense to limit these options. Voting is the centerpiece of a functional democracy, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage the practice, not suppress it. Time and time again, we have seen states’ voter ID laws struck down as intentionally discriminatory. Requiring individuals to have an ID, which involves a payment that amounts to a poll tax, is outlawed under the 24th amendment.
Many of those looking to suppress voters will claim that not requiring voter ID leads to increased election fraud. This type of election fraud is incredibly rare and carries penalties as deterrents. Also, the 2020 election was declared to be very secure, with no significant amount of voter fraud. Knowing that voter fraud is rare and that our elections are secure, the only reason to enact these measures is an attempt to suppress certain voters.
The Georgia Senate Bill 241 that just passed institutes needed reforms to ensure election integrity; in no way is it racist or intended to suppress legitimate votes. Georgia factored into the contested 2020 Presidential election precisely because the controls built into Bill 241 didn’t exist at the time. It is estimated that 20,312 people illegally voted in the last election since they did not meet residency requirements. In order to address the gaps and loopholes that caused some of 2020’s election problems, the Georgia state legislature passed Bill 241.
A key feature of the Georgia bill is the tightening of rules regarding absentee ballots. Specifically, the bill requires that voters provide a legitimate reason for requesting an absentee ballot and submit a valid ID when making their request. Absentee ballots open the door to voter fraud since it is the least secure way to cast your vote and ensure its validity.
GA Bill 241 also seeks to eliminate the possibility of illegitimate votes due to non-residents voting. It requires that Georgia participate in multi-state voter databases to verify a voter’s residency and prevent someone from voting in multiple states or localities.
Finally, Georgia’s voter reform bill holds local election officials accountable for their conduct to ensure that ballots are subject to qualification or disqualification standards as provided by law. Election integrity is essential in restoring the public’s confidence in the voting process. Democrats’ reflexive response to any efforts to build accountability and verification into the election process is to claim that it’s a racist policy designed to suppress votes. On the contrary, it’s to ensure that fraudulent votes don’t cancel out legitimate ones.
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