Georgia's Elections Bill

On April 2nd, Major League Baseball announced it was planning to move its All-Star game out of Atlanta. The decision comes after Georgia passed a new voting law on March 25, which many believe will further politicize the electoral system and significantly affect various voting groups.

Georgia has increasingly been the subject of political scrutiny. The 2018 gubernatorial race between Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) drew considerable media attention to disenfranchisement. Kemp, who was then Georgia’s Secretary of State, had canceled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012 and had continued to do so after he announced his gubernatorial run. Months before the election, Kemp had put 53,000 voter registration applications on hold, 70 percent of which came from African-Americans.

Now, Kemp has an even greater impetus to curtail voting through law, especially given Democratic success in the 2020 elections. President Biden was pronounced as the winner in Georgia, achieved mainly by absentee votes, of which he had 230, 455 more than then-President Trump. The two Senate seat races, which turned into runoff elections, were won by Democrats Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, and determined Democratic control of the Senate.

The 98-page Georgia voting law’s details seem to directly target these victories, such as changing absentee ballot registration, curtailing the extension of voting hours, and even determining that offering food or water to voters in line can risk a misdemeanor charge. Now, voters will have less time to request absentee ballots, and they are subject to stricter identification requirements. Not only will this put a more significant strain on the time elections boards have to process ballot requests, but it seems to directly target and hamper the 65 percent of absentee voters who voted for Biden in 2020.Furthermore, the law decreases the number of available drop boxes, where voters have 24-hour outdoor access to place their ballot. Now, the number of boxes has dropped from 94 to 23 in four counties in Atlanta, pushing voters to go to government buildings during business hours.

Other measures also redistribute power into the hands of the GOP-dominated partisan legislature, which now has more control over the State Election Board and can suspend county election officials. This relocates electoral power from nonpartisan-elected county officials into the hands of a select partisan group, which forebodes even greater interference in elections to come.

Georgia’s law has enraged civil rights groups, and President Biden has even called it “Jim Crow on steroids.” The MLB’s decision to pull their All-Star game is a significant step. It puts more pressure on other organizations to pull their business from Georgia and serves as a warning for other states, like Texas, that are hoping to pursue similar measures. Other companies based in Atlanta, like Delta Air Lines and the Coca-Cola Company, are now criticizing the law after pressure from civil rights groups.

The bill’s future is also ambiguous, as it is likely to face challenges in the courts. Despite its future, Republican actions in Georgia signal a greater politicization of voting and seem to be a further harbinger of voter suppression to come.

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