Georgian Republicans Vs. Democracy

This is an opinion article piece. Amelia Payne is a sophomore at Mendham who writes for Global & Domestic News. All opinions expressed in the following editorial are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Patriot

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Amelia Payne, Staff Writer

Voter restriction is something akin to a distant memory… what do you think of when you hear the phrase? The 1920’s women’s suffrage movement? Of course, the grandfather clause and 1860’s literacy tests are common knowledge for anyone who participates in their American history classes, and (hopefully) anyone in that class could tell you that these laws were made by old, white southern legislatures in an attempt to deny suffrage to African American voters. It is only a disturbing piece of American history, nothing more, right? Yet the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law concludes that there have been at least 253 restrictive voting bills in 43 states introduced in recent years. Just as we have seen throughout the darkest years of this country’s history, voters of color are suffering attacks on their right to vote. It’s concerning, to say the least, as the country turns its attention to the state Republicans at the head of the charge, and Georgia lawmakers are under fire at the center of it all. 

In Georgia, there have been a pair of omnibus bills sent into both the House and the Senate (bills that include/cover more than one thing) and a small yet impactful amount of standalone bills that cover everything from early voting hours to automatic voter registration to drop boxes and no-absentee voting. NBC news comments that some of these proposals included within the bills would limit weekend early voting in some counties, which is popular among Black voters who organize “souls to the polls” events at churches. The bill was approved, 29-20, and Democrats across the nation duly took note of the fact that this new legislation requires voters to show their driver’s license or state ID card number when applying for and returning an absentee ballot, as well as providing the last four digits of their Social Security number and their date of birth… a bit of a burden on voters who just want to get their ballot into the counting room. Georgia Senator Jen Jordan had urged lawmakers to vote against the bill, saying that “SB 241 [the bill] creates unnecessary barriers and burdens on voters. It disproportionately impacts racial minorities, the elderly, those that live in rural Georgia, disabled and students”. She also commented that this move is suspect because it was proposed immediately after voters of color dramatically increased their use of absentee voting in 2020. It’s an insult to American ideals and pushes memories of Jim Crow laws all too uncomfortable to the forefront of everyone’s mind. As the Brennan center for justice puts it, the bill is “grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities” that crudely resembles voter suppression in the times before Baby Boomers.