Gabriel Sterling, the chief operation officer and chief financial officer in the office of the Georgia Secretary of State, today published an op-ed in the New York Times, “Mr. President, your misinformation on Georgia’s voting law is dangerous.” He rebukes President Biden for allegedly misrepresenting the recently passed Georgia electoral reform law as a Jim Crow law.
A simple observation, Mr. Stirling, that blows to smithereens all your finely wrought justifications for this law: Republicans passed this law in the aftermath of Georgians voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in over 30 years and electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate for the first time in heaven knows when. The flagrant intent of this law cuts through all the verbiage intended to justify it.
And it’s not only the election results that damn Stirling’s apologia. The demographic trends in Georgia are giving more votes to pro-Democratic citizens, notably Blacks and the younger, better educated, more sophisticated voters in Atlanta’s and other metro area suburbs. Plain as day, Republicans see what the future holds for fair elections, and are attempting to nip it in the bud.
The law also strips the secretary of state of some of his authority and empowers the GOP-led legislature to suspend county election officials. Republicans seeking to serve their partisan political interests now have the leverage to create problems for any county officials who certify election returns that Republican legislators do not like. The will of the people can be frustrated by false allegations of voter fraud and endless legal challenges.
Three other details make this a flagrant Jim Crow law. The law imposes strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots. The citizens who are most likely not to have a license or other photo ID are most likely to vote Democratic. Elections are won by thin majorities, as 2020 showed in spades. And Georgia mandates run-offs in elections in which no candidate gets a majority. Plurality does not count, as it does for most states, and for election of a President, thanks to the electoral college.
Run-offs are notorious for low turn out. This works mightily to the advantage of incumbents and candidates with lots of money, including out-of-state contributors. In Georgia, that means Republicans have the upper hand. These factors weighed heavily in the law passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican Governor. Their claim that this was all about protecting the integrity of the electoral process is all demagogic phony baloney. The law enhances the power of Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee, and mega buck GOP campaign contributors in GA elections.
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