Georgia Voting Laws and Its Impact

Steven Makino, Staff Writer

Georgia has been one of the main focuses of the political world in the past several months, whether it was the narrow voting margins for both the presidential and senate runoff elections or former President Trump making baseless claims that he had won the state. In an effort to ensure that future elections are more secure and adhere to the principle of fairness, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law The Election Integrity Act of 2021 on March 25th; however, this bill has been met with much scrutiny not only from most mainstream media platforms but also President Joe Biden himself. He — along with many media outlets — disregarded the facts and instead promoted the false narrative of how it equates to voter suppression and facilitates active racial discrimination. As the days passed, these lies have been gradually debunked, but may be too late as the consequences of these fabrications may have already taken firm root in our country. 

The overarching lie that has been promulgated about this bill is that it is a piece of legislation designed as a means of voter suppression to the people of Georgia. One point that has been heavily perpetuated is the idea that this law prohibits giving food and water to people waiting in line to vote. In reality, this law explicitly makes it illegal for people to give money or gifts such as food and water to voters within 150 feet of a polling building to prevent outside influence for a particular candidate. Outside of this area, it is perfectly legal for people to supply food and water as this law does not assert any additional restrictions on this front and is actually fairly similar to voting provisions in states such as New York or California. In addition, poll workers are explicitly allowed to provide water at these polling places to voters which makes this claim rather perplexing.

This bill has also been named as Jim Crow 2.0 or “Jim Eagle” as President Biden referred to it during his first press conference. This claim is not only baseless but is itself a lie that has racial undertones at its surface. This criticism is largely stemmed from the fact that this new voting act requires absentee voters to show proof of identification which the media and President Biden feel will disproportionately affect African Americans. There is not significant evidence that shows that it is harder for African Americans to obtain an I.D. at all and so this notion quickly falls apart. Also, even if a person does not have a driver’s license, that person can still provide the number of a state-issued voting identification card (which is free in Georgia) or the last four digits of his or her social security number which leads me to wonder: What exactly is racist about this? President Biden — having been alive during the tail end of the Jim Crow Era — should have an understanding of these disgusting laws that actively discriminated against Americans based solely on the color of one’s skin.  However, this does not seem to be the case as he compares Jim Crow Laws to this voting law. Comparing this bill that merely has measures in place that affect all voters for the sake of increased election security to laws that explicitly sought to discriminate people on account of their race is, in my mind, disrespectful and a comparison that should not be made by anyone — much less the president of the United States. 

Aside from the logistics of the bill being overtly lied about in the media, the American people have also been a casualty of this unnecessary political controversy. Following immense backlash of these laws, the MLB chose to respond by moving their All-Star game from the city of Atlanta to Denver, Colorado, a state that has similar voting laws to Georgia. I believe that entertainment and other industries should remain out of the scope of politics entirely with very few exceptions, this not being one of them. A prime reason for my belief is the aftermath of this decision with many people in Atlanta not only disheartened by this news but also by the fact that revenue that would have been garnered from such a popular event was now lost to Georgians. President Biden even stated in an interview that he strongly supported the MLB’s decision but has since tried to backtrack as he initially did not take into account how this would affect the people of Georgia economically. These lies that have been pushed by the mainstream media have shown to have dire consequences on the average American as many companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta have also entered the scene and have indirectly set the precedent for corporations to have a major influence in political matters. These profit industries were not designed to be involved in the realm of politics and therefore should not cave to the pressure of any political party. Speaking as someone that does not like politics to be an overwhelming presence in my day to day actions at all, I feel many others agree with this sentiment and hope that in the coming weeks, corporations will dial back on political commentary and thus diminish the grasp of politics in daily life.