By: Abdalrahman Abou-Sar, Columnist
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
It seems there is nothing the GOP hates more than voters. In light of the sweeping Democratic victories in Georgia, the State Legislature and Gov. Brian Kemp has passed the Election Integrity Act of 2021, a bill soaked in baseless conspiracism about election fraud. In that vein, the bill attacks absentee voting by cutting the time to request a mail-in ballot by half, and making the deadline to complete the application earlier. Despite provisions to expand early in-person voting, they do very little to address the endemic wait lines in areas like Fulton County.
It’s obvious to me this bill’s intent is to cut down on the preferred method of voting of Democrats, particularly Black voters; one needs only look at the now removed provision to ban Sunday voting, where Black churches do their “Souls to the Polls.” I imagine they removed this because it was too blatant. They might as well have stamped the bill with a blood drop cross.
The chicanery doesn’t end there. The bill also changes the Georgia State Board of Elections. The chairperson, previously the Georgian Secretary of State, will be appointed by the Republican controlled State Legislature.
Secretary Brad Raffensperger fulfilled his duty to conduct secure elections and refused to give in to Trump’s cajoling to overturn the results, even after receiving death threats. In response to this, the Georgia GOP plans on removing him from a vital position, and replacing him with what seems to be a rubber stamp official. They will also be giving the Board of Elections expanded powers to intervene in counties they deem underperforming.
These powers will most likely be used against urban areas where voting is more inefficient by design, and despite recent Republician and Democratic voting turnouts being almost evenly split in Georgia, the State Board of Elections is disgustingly partisan, with four out of five members being appointed by Republicans. It seems the GOP took meticulous notes during Trump’s election charade, and codified into law everything they could to make sure that the 2020-2021 elections don’t happen again any time soon.
Among other things, we must remove this option entirely by passing comprehensive voting reform at the federal level; that should be the clearest priority for anyone who respects democracy. But as I said, this bill is a last gasp.
Due to changing demographic factors, Georgia appears to be heading down the same road as Virginia; what was once a reliable red state may soon be a blue stronghold. These people will die losers; disempowered and disgraced. That is something, I believe, we should celebrate.