There’s a lot of debate going on around the Georgian SB 202 bill, which among other things makes it illegal to offer people waiting in line to vote water. Rather than sticking to only excerpts from the bill, a read through the bill may be more useful to define intent and note the actual changes. This is part 2 of my analysis of the bill; you can find the first part here: https://breakingnewsandreligion.online/2021/03/30/sb-202-the-impact-and-background-of-the-georgia-voter-suppression-bill-part-1/
I will be using this link:
I won’t copy over all text, but where a point is made I will cite the line number and the critique or review of what it does.
Summary from Part 1:
So far the changes are mainly in creating a partisan board that has multiple powers, including to remove anyone they wish from the voter rolls, from the election official positions, and the power to sanction and fine people they deem to be doing their job insufficiently. The changes also remove the SoS from having any power. It allows endless anonymous accusations to serve as the basis for challenging the validity of the vote, removing the burden of proof. And it treats a request for emergency funding as an inquiry into the competence of any officials in that area.
We’re about 1/3rd of the way through, and already you can see the intent of this bill. The party in power can create a near-universally powerful board which can overturn the will of the people and use spurious allegations to remove people from the voter rolls. It puts a large burden on those accused and makes the amount of times they can be harassed limitless. And it prevents the person elected by the people to adjudicate elections from any sort of real power to do so.
Section 18 (from line 704) creates smaller precincts if there is an hour long wait or more during voting. This improves the current criteria, in which precincts are only created if people who desired to vote did not get to vote. IMO, a very good and needed change.
Section 19 (Line 736) expands the notice of changed polling locations to include 7 days before election day.
Section 20 is twofold; one part adds advance polling locations to the restrictive criteria of where these are located (similar to election day poll sites), tying them to public buildings when possible. The second part restricts the use of mobile polling locations to emergency use only.
Section 21, while strangely using two different grammar structures for “runoff” (Line 806 and 807), only changes the language to reflect the change done in Section 13 (see previous post).
Section 22 removes the requirement for one booth per 250 voters from all but state-wide general elections, including runoffs. This of course allows for the reduction of the number of available voting booths. (Line 821)
Section 23 requires security paper for ballots, something that I believe was already a requirement in federal elections at least.
Section 24 expands the notice of testing ballots to 5 days for runoffs and updates the language of presenting the information of said tests to websites instead of just newspapers.
This section is long, and greatly cuts the time period in which you may request an absentee ballot (180 days to 78 days), and puts a time limit of 11 days before the election as the last day to do so. This means those who have something come up 11 days or less before the election will no longer be able to vote, and it means advanced planning to vote absentee is made much more difficult. As an aside, other nations have done away with this by providing on the ballot the option to still vote absentee by mailing in the voting card that gives you a ballot at the polling locations.
This section also creates an identification structure running through the Secretary of State (SoS) when applying for an absentee ballot; the mechanism for this is not in existence per the law, and will need to be furnished by the SoS (Line 899). Furthermore a signature will be sent along with the application, for I suppose signature matching. Also included is a specific note that sending false information with your application is a violation.
Subsection (ii) of Section 25 is a big one; not only does it make it illegal for anyone but the SoS or relatives of the elector to send any absentee ballot applications to electors, it also makes it criminal to deliver completed applications if they are not your own or you are not directly in the chain of custody. This severely cuts into the GOTV practices and seems to be aimed at stopping the fictional accounts of ballots being filled out for electors without their knowledge, something that lacks any evidence of having occurred.
It also strangely forces each application to display that they are not official government documents (Line 928), despite being only made available by the SoS on the government website.
Section 25 provides a direct demand that incarcerated individuals be provided the means to vote, not just the ballots themselves. (Line 943). It also requires any entity that sends ballots or applications out to voters to check against any already requested ballot lists, and if they are on it, they must be removed from the mailing distribution lists. It is unclear if this is a temporary removal until the next election, and failing to do so comes with a fine and sanctions.
Section 25 Line 1027 includes lateness of application to reasons for an application’s rejection. It also fixes vague language on how identifying information is used to reject applications; unfortunately, the way they do it now allows them to reject absentee ballot applications on basis of a suspected mismatch of identifying information, making an already shortened process that much tighter. Before, it was not allowed to deny the application based on signature mismatch at all. Furthermore the language changes once more remove the right to turn in absentee ballots up to the end of election day.
Section 26 removes the ability to add more absentee and advance voting sites. Strangely enough, the language about such sites is not removed, making this section a confusing mess. It also specifies that the locations must be buildings, not locations, which is set up to deny more locations for drop boxes or mobile sites. It also limits drop boxes to one location per county, with the exception that OPTIONALLY you may add drop boxes per every 100,000 active registered voters. The boxes are only available inside locations and only when there is active advance voting taking place. Given the restrictions in that above, this greatly reduces the time window in which you can drop off your ballot. No ballots may be dropped off once advanced voting ends.
This section also defines the picking up and recording of ballots from drop boxes.
Section 27 cuts the dates of getting absentee ballots from 49-45 days to 29-25 days. Effectively half the time. It also adjusts the overseas voting ballot acceptance to only include federal elections. It also removes a provision in which the state sends absentee ballots to those they know are eligible for it.
Section 27 also addresses issues with the 11 day cut off if you are hospitalized, allowing you to apply and vote within that margin. It also makes opening a sealed absentee ballot a felony, outside of the regular process. It also requires an oath that no one has seen your ballot aside from your children, which IMO is none of the government’s goddamn business.
Section 27 also creates a second tier voting system for military and overseas voters (Line 1336), requiring them to rank their choices. This means that they may not participate in a runoff, as these preferences will be used instead. This is disenfranchisement, as all other voters will be allowed to reselect their preferences based on information between the general election and the runoff.
There are some good changes here; the ability to create more precincts, require notice of changes, and ensuring the incarcerated right to vote. However, much of the rest is restrictive. Timelines are cut by over half. Polling sites are restricted both in number and type. Absentee ballot application processes are greatly restricted for GOTV groups.
Add to that the potentially unconstitutional two tiered voting system for overseas voters, and you once more see this as restricting and narrowing voting rights. It makes it harder for the voter in order to provide relief for the polling officials, which again is the converse of the law and intent.
What do you think? Is my analysis correct? Do you have a different view on it? Defend it below, and I’ll see you in the next part.