In this week’s column, I planned to try and outline Georgia’s election reform legislation that was signed into law a couple of weeks ago.
I wanted to provide insight on what it all really means and try to explain that not everything we’ve been hearing about this law is true.
But then I thought, “Why bother?”
After the decision was announced to move the MLB All-Star game out of Atlanta and over to Denver, Colorado, it became painfully obvious Commissioner Rob Manfred, the rest of the MLB big wigs and half of America doesn’t really care what this law really does or doesn’t do.
How did I come to this conclusion? Well, if anyone really took the time and listened to the facts, there might be an even bigger uproar over the league’s choice of Colorado.
After Georgia passed its new election law, the two states’ protocols are now super-similar.
In Georgia, lawmakers chose to scrap the signature matching system used to verify absentee ballots and implement a requirement for IDs.
In Colorado, IDs were already required. From the Colorado Secretary of State’s website: “All voters who vote must provide identification. If you are voting by mail for the first time, you may also need to provide a photocopy of your identification when you return your mail ballot.”
They still use a signature matching system, too.
In Georgia, lawmakers placed a ban on non-poll workers handing out food and drinks within 150 feet of voters waiting in line outside polling places. However, groups are allowed to give “nonpartisan, bipartisan water without campaign stickers” to poll workers who will distribute it.
It’s similar in the Mile High State. Unlike Georgia, Colorado campaign workers are allowed to hand out water and food to voters waiting in line outside; however, no campaign apparel or accessories bearing the name or image of a candidate or party is allowed within 100 feet when doing so, which is in line with the Peach State.
If this hoopla from the MLB is in the name of fighting voter suppression, racial injustice and discrimination, picking Denver, Colorado, as a backup plan doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Black people account for more than 50% of Atlanta’s population and about 30% of Georgia’s population. In Denver, 9% Black population and even less when factoring all of Colorado.
By pulling out of Atlanta, state leaders expect to lose what could have been a $100 million weekend for Georgia’s diverse economy. Imagine how much revenue small businesses — be it Black, white or any other race of ownership — in Atlanta will now miss out on.
I say chalk up a big “E” for the MLB.
But the only reason for any of this is simply because of the 2020 election outcome. Georgia Republicans didn’t like the fact Joe Biden won the presidency, so they’ve made changes to state election laws to “secure the vote.” Of course Democrats aren’t going to like that idea, and it doesn’t matter how severe or light the changes were going to be, pushback was bound to happen.
The fact remains — and this country would be in a better place if everyone just listened to the facts and were loyal to the truth rather than their party affiliation — that there’s really nothing wrong with this election reform when it comes to voters’ rights.
The fact is, this election reform is nothing close to the Jim Crow laws of old, which denied African Americans the right to vote altogether, the ability to retain jobs and receive a quality education. And Biden, as well as everyone else, is quite foolish to try and compare the two.
Georgia’s Election Integrity Act neither takes away the right to vote, nor makes it more difficult for anyone to vote — heck, early voting opportunities were increased and might I remind you voter IDs are free. What the law does is make it harder to vote illegally, which is a good thing, but that pitch seems to be sailing over most people’s heads.
Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The Covington News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.