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.
I’ve taken a brief break due to illnesses in the family, but now all is well and I’ve returned for the next part.
This is part 3 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/
And you can find the second part here: https://breakingnewsandreligion.online/2021/03/31/part-2-of-sb-202-the-impact-and-background-of-the-georgia-voter-suppression-bill/
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 and 2:
Part 1 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. 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.
There are some good changes in the second part; 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.
Section 28 (Line 1389) adds identification requirements to the absentee ballot itself, not just the application and registration process. This is done via personally identifiable information added to the outside of the ballot envelope, include the last four digits of your social security number, date of birth and your ID card number. I cannot find a reasoning in here for why they print it on the visible outside of the envelope, rather than in the ballot envelope, and furthermore it is a redundant process. Section 28 also removes the strict four week prior requirement to advance voting, changing it to the nebulous “as soon as possible” requirement (Line 1434 – 1438). It also once more establishes a time limit to voting, no longer than 7-7 even in exceptional cases, and removes state holidays as possible advance voting days. Lastly it adds a requirement to report daily and publicly the totals of absentee voting and advance voting ballots received and accepted. Honestly don’t know why that would matter except to scare people into voting more, which… well, isn’t technically bad?
Section 29 mainly just reiterates earlier items. It does however provide a strict restriction in any sort of pre-count tabulation of the ballots, aside from how many there are. It also places all rule promulgation in the hands of the SEB, further increasing their power and removing the power of review from local managers, including the start of the count, without oversight from a superintendent (selected and controlled by the SEB). It also places severe penalties on any superintendent who does not report the total vote tallies by 5pm the following day, a completely unnecessary and bad for quality restriction.
Section 30 gives the SoS the power to audit any and all information in the absentee ballots at any time within a 24 month retention period, for any reason, outside the bounds of usual audits. This means your personal data could be perused by the SoS at any time, for any reason, if you vote absentee.
Section 31 makes it harder to extend polling hours by requiring a per-item extension proof and limiting it to the timespan missed, all signed off on by a judge.
Section 32 requires training for poll watchers (which is a good, if unnecessary, thing).
Section 33 (Line 1813) is infamous as it restricts individuals not just from soliciting votes or handing out campaign literature, but prevents them from giving food or drink to any elector within the vicinity of a polling location. The only offsetting measure is that it does not RESTRICT the polling officers from setting up a single unattended self-service water receptacle.
Section 34 restricts voting in a county to a single precinct, no longer allowing a provisional ballot to be issued unless it can be proven that they cannot make it to the other location in time.
Section 35 repeats this requirement.
Summary of Part 3
Identification questions are not new, but the form and manner presented here is unnecessarily redundant and open to abuse. Most of the sections covered restrict voting in some way, either by the timespan, less days to do advance voting, There’s some more power handed to the SEB to overturn and overrule local officials, a push for quick tabulation over accurate tabulation, and an abuse-risk-high new audit power for the SoS.
Primarily this part focuses on removing the abilities voters had to vote if they fall outside much stricter processes, and limiting other’s ability to help in cases of long lines and bad temperatures. This focus on removing voter options is the primary reason this bill is correctly seen as disempowering voters.
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.