Republicans in Georgia House pass new restrictions in backward step for voting rights

Patrick Swanson / February 28,2021

They say that no good deed goes unpunished.
So it’s not surprising that the citizens of Georgia, having had unprecedented access to the ballot box in the last election due to the expansion of mail-in votings options set up deal with the dangers of the COVID pandemic (and resulting in a record turnout), are now being penalized for delivering a massive defeat to the party that controls their state government.
Of course, that state government — currently controlled across the board by GOP officials — was elected under much more stringent voting regulations that previously had purged voter roles and restricted polling places to intentionally suppress voting by minorities, as many critics of Georgia’s Republican politicians have alleged.
Now those GOP lawmakers are facing a future where they will lose the levers of power due to the newly emboldened Democratic-leaning voters who turned the state blue in both the presidential and U.S. senatorial races.
And, rather than change their policies and adjust their platforms to appeal to a wider range of the state’s voters, Georgia Republicans have decided that the easiest way to keep their jobs is to change the rules for elections to make it harder for those who don’t share their political views to vote.
The Georgia House of Representatives took the first step on that shameful path today with the passage of HB 531, a bill that would limit absentee drop boxes, shorten the window to request absentee ballot applications, severely limit big urban Democratic-leaning counties from setting up popular weekend voting days to give access to people who find it hard to get to the polls on a workday, shorten the runoff period, strip powers from the Secretary of State, and take other measures that would make voting more onerous for the state’s citizens.
The impetus for the bill, according to its sponsor, GOP Rep. Barry Fleming, is “to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system.”
Oddly, it is only Republicans who have any lack of confidence in the voting process in Georgia as it was executed in the two most recent elections, and that is largely due to the two-pronged assault being waged on the credibility of the results by Donald Trump and his right-wing extremist media allies.
Political journalist Stephen Fowler posted a lengthy Twitter thread critiquing HB 531 and pointing out the hypocrisy of the Republican politicians urging its passage.

You can read the rest of Fowler’s detailed thread on the subject, including excerpts from the debate in the House chamber, here.
A quick perusal of his post provides even more reasons why this bill is an anti-democratic — and anti-Democratic — nightmare.
Still, in the end, the Republican majority prevailed and the regressive bill passed by a margin of 97-72.
Next, the Georgia Senate needs to pass the bill and Governor Brian Kemp must sign it for the provisions to become law.
There is still time to raise a big enough uproar to stop the voter suppression tactics from taking effect in Georgia.
It’s time to flood the office of every politician in the Georgia state Senate and let them know how you feel about their legislating their way into job security.
After an election with a record turnout, it’s insane to enact laws that will make voting more difficult…unless you know that it’s the only way you can win.
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