Apr 12, 2021
After Donald Trump’s narrow defeat in the November election and the election of two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, Georgia’s Republican-led legislature and Republican Governor Brian Kemp passed a massive 98-page bill aimed at suppressing the right to vote.
The bill’s provisions are clearly designed to make it more difficult for black, poor and working class people to vote. The bill especially aims at making it more difficult to vote by absentee ballot.
It’s not hard to understand why the Republicans are so intent on carrying out this attack. In November, 1.3 million Georgians, or 26%, voted by absentee ballot. Of those, almost 2/3 voted for Biden to only 1/3 for Trump.
The new law includes stricter ID requirements for obtaining absentee ballots, and requires they be submitted at least 11 days before an election. It prohibits election officials from mailing out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. It reduces the number of drop boxes available—especially in urban areas with higher black and working class populations, and no longer allows drop boxes to be available 24-hours. The bill specifies the number of drop boxes allowed based on population, so in Fulton County where Atlanta is located, the number will drop from 38 in 2020 to only eight in the future. Drop boxes will now have to be located inside government buildings or early-voting sites, so they can only be accessed during business hours, making them more difficult to get to for people who work.
The bill also makes it harder to vote on election day. It makes it more difficult for voting sites to extend hours if problems arise, which happens often. It makes it a misdemeanor to provide food or water to voters waiting in line and bans mobile voting centers.
Georgia is not alone in its efforts aimed at voter suppression. There are currently at least 253 voter suppression bills being considered in 43 states.
U.S. elections have never, in fact, been democratic. Even with the most widely available voting rights, these elections would not be truly democratic because who it is that can be voted for is strictly limited to the selection of a few candidates by electoral rules that prevent the population from choosing candidates representing interests apart from those of the wealthy upper class.
Nevertheless, the current discriminatory voter suppression drive in Georgia and elsewhere is, in fact, an attack, on the black population and the entire working class.