Democrats like claiming that things suppress votes. On one hand, opposition to their bill which would radically alter the U.S. electoral system amounts to “voter suppression” — and so too, allegedly, is support for the voting reform signed into law by Georgia.
Here’s a guide to the many various things that have been branded “voter suppression” in the legislative battle over election reform.
Democrats recently chose to push H.R. 1, also known as the “For The People Act.” The 800-page piece of legislation would end voter I.D., legalize ballot harvesting and give felons the right to vote. Meanwhile, Republican states such as Georgia have pursued legislation with provisions that include requiring voter I.D. to increase the security of the election process.
Georgia’s new election legislation, “The Election Integrity Act of 2021,” was signed into law by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after it passed both chambers of the legislature on a party-line vote, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported. One of the provisions of the new law extends voter I.D. verification to absentee ballots, which Georgia already requires for voting in-person. The system established by “The Election Integrity Act of 2021” would require absentee voters to provide a driver’s license or state I.D. number, or the last four digits of their social security number. Absentee ballots can even be returned online through an online request portal, given the voter provides their driver’s license number or state I.D. number, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported.
Less than 2% of Georgia’s population of 11 million lacks a state identification card or a drivers license, according to CNN. Given the close margins in Georgia’s recent elections, lack of identification for these 200,000 individuals may sound like cause for concern. However, Georgians can obtain a free I.D. card from the state if the individual produces proof of residency along with other information like their social security number and proof of citizenship to a county registrar’s office. Not only is the card free, but it also has no age restriction.
These measures, however, are widely panned by the bill’s opponents as restrictive to the point of actively suppressing voters, and even as racist.
The sweeping H.R. 1 bill Democrats have proposed would do away with many of these state-level election integrity reforms, and is being championed as a “voting rights” bill. The act would ban voter I.D. requirements across the United States, legalize ballot harvesting, provide convicted felons the right to vote and transform the congressional redistricting process using independent commissions chosen by the state in question.
The bill also requires that “a State may not refuse to treat an individual as an eligible individual … on the grounds that the individual is less than 18 years of age … so long as the individual is at least 16 years of age at such time.” While Americans will be required to be 18 to vote, states would be required to register younger voters in preparation for their eligibility.
Democrats also added the Foreign Agent Disclaimer Enhancement (FADE) Act as an amendment to the For The People Act, which would permit the U.S. Attorney General to force social media companies to remove posts from properly identified foreign agents.
Advocates of H.R. 1 seem to be working to avoid debate over the actual merits of these election system reforms by labeling opposition attempts at “voter suppression.” When the House passed H.R. 1 by a party-line vote, Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted it was “because voter suppression is part of their strategy,” rather than that the bill is a progressive wish list.
That’s because voter suppression is part of their strategy. When you cannot win on policy and social wedge issues, they start tinkering with the voting process to stay alive as a party. They’re scared as hell as that door now begins to close on them too. https://t.co/IiR1crW5qo
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) March 4, 2021
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “The Republican who is sitting in Stacey Abrams’ chair just signed a despicable voter suppression bill into law to take Georgia back to Jim Crow,” in response to Kemp signing the Election Integrity Act of 2021 into law. Warren repeated the lie that former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams would have won her gubernatorial bid in 2018 if it hadn’t been for voter suppression carried out by Republicans.
The Republican who is sitting in Stacey Abrams’ chair just signed a despicable voter suppression bill into law to take Georgia back to Jim Crow. The Senate must pass the #ForThePeople Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act immediately – our democracy is at stake tonight. https://t.co/xDolZO9Bf3
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 26, 2021
“The Senate must pass the #ForThePeople Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act immediately – our democracy is at stake tonight,” Warren added.
Abrams also said the election reforms in Georgia “are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison falsely asserted Georgia’s legislation made “it a crime to give folks water and food when they have to stand in lines for hours just to cast their ballots to vote.” In reality, the law forbids individuals from handing out campaign materials, and gifts (including food and water) to voters close to the polling station — a practice known as “line warming.”
In fact, the law explicitly states, “This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing… or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.” Nevertheless, Harrison claimed “The GOP is hellbent on ushering in Jim Crow 2.0.”
I guess part of @GOPChairwoman best practices included making it a crime to give folks water and food when they have to stand in lines for hours just to cast their ballots to vote. The GOP is hellbent on ushering in Jim Crow 2.0 but let’s be clear #WeWillNotGoBack https://t.co/gQ0cI15WYE
— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@harrisonjaime) March 26, 2021
It seems Biden has bought into this narrative, too, given a statement released by the White House in response to Georgia’s new election law. “This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” the president’s statement read. “This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” Biden claimed. “It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act,” the statement added.
The Washington Post gave Biden four Pinocchios for saying the Georgia law made it more difficult for working people to vote by limiting early voting hours. (RELATED: Washington Post Gives Biden ‘Four Pinocchios’ For Whopper About Georgia Voting Law)
The Democratic Party’s leadership continues to push the dramatic overhaul of the election system, and could try to ram the legislation through the Senate without Republican input by circumventing the filibuster. But, Democrats would still have to convince certain Democratic senators to vote for the package.
“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government,” Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said, according to The New York Times.
If they’re unable to convince senators like Manchin, Democrats might have to explain why some members of their own party are siding with conservatives purportedly hellbent on taking the country back to the era of Jim Crow.