Apr 9, 2021 | OPINION | By Ian Chalmers | Illustration by Bibi Powers
The new voting law in Georgia has shaken the nation. From Saturday Night Live to Coca-Cola to Major League Baseball, the law has been condemned as undemocratic and even as a reincarnation of Jim Crow.
So, what is the new voting bill about, and how does it restrict people from voting?
The bill includes many restrictive provisions. One provision limits the time to request an absentee ballot from 180 days to only 78 days. Absentee ballots also include voter identification requirements which necessitate that voters have either a Georgia State ID or License and social security number. Missing one or more of these requirements invalidates your ballot.
The bill also prohibits the Secretary of State’s office from mailing out ballot applications without a specific request, and the requester from filling out any information ahead of time.
Logistically, the number of drop-off boxes were limited to one for every 100,000 people. The New York Times reported, “For the 2020 election, there were 94 drop boxes across the four counties that make up the core of metropolitan Atlanta: Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett. The new law limits the same four counties to a total of, at most, 23 drop boxes, based on the latest voter registration data.”
I live on the edge of Gwinnett County, and so the nearest drop-off box for us was four miles away, and severely reducing the number of drop off boxes would have us driving further out to drop off our ballots in the future. Likewise, said drop-off boxes will not be available outdoors but will be inside with finite hours of access.
The State also placed more authority in itself than county governments, changing voting hours from “normal business hours,” which counties were able to define, strictly to “9 a.m. to 5 p.m.” One provision offers some flexibility, offering extended voting hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — but not any longer. Once the polling place closes, potential voters in line will have to leave and return another day — which puts day-workers at a severe disadvantage.
The section of this law that generated the most criticism is that which makes it a misdemeanor for any person to exchange money or gifts, including food and drinks, within 150 feet of the building housing a polling place, or 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.
With reports of voters waiting as long as seven to 11 hours, just for early voting, this seems cruel. Democrats claim that people will not be able to wait that long without provisions, especially on hot or cold days, and while election officials are permitted to set up water stations, they are not required to do so.
Georgia was met with national popularity in the 2020 election, and now, the state has become infamous. The pride in my state has turned into scorn. And to the elected officials whom I did not vote for but who represent me, get your fucking shit together. I will continue spamming your inbox, copy and pasting the same thing over and over again until y’all fix your mistake and dismantle this new law. While it may give access to more rural voters, repeal the current one and make a new one. This should be easy if you care more about the people you govern than trying to win party power. Oh wait, you don’t.