Monday, April 5, 2021

No, the Georgia Voting Bill Is Not "Jim Crow in the 21st Century"

I wish the Georgia legislature had not passed this bill. Clearly their motives in doing so were not pristine concerns about election integrity but rather fury at the Democratic victories in Georgia and pressure from their base to do something--anything!--that would hurt the Democrats. As the Morning Dispatch noted:
"In many ways, SB 202 was borne of Republican lawmakers in Georgia facing immense pressure from their voters to “do something” about the election fraud the former president insisted was rampant. And early in the drafting process, some proposals floating around in the state legislature were highly questionable. These included eliminating no-excuse absentee voting entirely and prohibiting early voting on Sundays (which critics decried as targeting “souls to the polls” drives at black churches). But even though those suggestions didn’t make it into the final package, some Democrats continue to pretend that they did.
Those provisions—says Gabriel Sterling, the Republican election official who came to prominence for speaking out against GOP election disinformation back in December—“were phantoms that the leadership in both the Senate and the House told their guys, ‘Hey, introduce whatever you need to to cover yourself with your people.’ Now, I think that’s a terrible idea. But one thing I don’t know if I could express to your readers enough ... is in the Republican base, the level of anger, and fear, and sorrow, and despair.”
So that's why they did it and it's not a pretty picture. But when you look at the actual bill that was passed and signed into law, it's not nearly as bad as many Democrats--including the President--are making it out to be. There are actually a number of provisions that will make it a bit easier to vote, especially in person (more early voting, reduced waiting time at polling places) and the ID requirement for submitting absentee ballots (which are still allowed on a no-excuses basis) is not particularly onerous and is in fact widely supported by the public. Nathaniel Rakich on 538:
"[T]he public strongly supports one of the other major stipulations of Georgia’s new law: the ID requirement for absentee voting. That latest YouGov/The Economist poll found that Americans support requiring a photo ID in order to vote absentee, 53 percent to 28 percent. And Georgians are even more supportive: 74 percent of registered voters in the UGA/AJC poll backed requiring voters to include a copy of their photo ID or other documentation in order to vote by mail. Only 22 percent were opposed.
Indeed, voter ID laws — which Republicans have pushed for years — are quite popular in general. In another national poll out this week from Selzer & Co./Grinnell College, 56 percent of adults favored keeping laws that require people to show a photo ID before voting, while just 36 percent wanted to eliminate them. And this isn’t an opinion Americans suddenly adopted amid 2020’s specious claims of voter fraud. In fall 2018, the Pew Research Center found that 76 percent of Americans favored requiring everyone to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, versus only 23 percent who opposed it."
There's also very little evidence that voter ID laws how much, if any, effect on turnout. Much the same could be said about other provisions in the bill that put some minor obstacles in the way of casting a ballot (having 67 rather than 169 days to request an absentee ballot, some diminution of absentee ballot dropoff box availability). As Nate Cohn noted in excellent NYT article, convenience factors just don't typically have much an effect on turnout (automatic voter registration is much more important). As for the water thing , I predict that only will it not deter people from voting but it'll just piss people off and help the Democrats juice turnout.
So, Jim Crow for the 21st century it's not. And I don't think ratcheting up the rhetoric like this is particularly good for Democrats....or the country.

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