What’s the Truth About Georgia’s New Election Law?

Published: April 7, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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“I’m telling you the truth about this bill,” Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp tells Atlanta’s NPR affiliate. “It expands access.”

You can fool all the people some of the time…

“After the November election last year, I knew,” Kemp said, “like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed.”

And some of the people all of the time…

Georgia will take another step toward ensuring our elections are secure, accessible, and fair.”

But you cannot fool all the people all of the time.

Washington Post reporter Peter Stevenson observes:

– “It shrinks the window for voters to request mail ballots.

– “Counties and the state can send mail ballot applications only to voters who request them.

– “New voter ID requirements.

– “A limit on the number of ballot drop boxes during early voting.

– “State lawmakers get much more power over county and local elections.

And perhaps most reprehensible, “a ban on handing out food and water within 150 feet of a polling place, or within 25 feet of any voter. Republicans say this is aimed at stopping outside groups from influencing voters.”

Now, because of the obvious voting restrictions placed mostly on Georgia’s black voters,  business leaders in the state and around the country are no longer remaining silent. “…Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey [said], ‘Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal, this legislation is unacceptable,’ and Delta CEO Ed Bastian writing in a memo to employees that the law is ‘unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.’ ”

Major League Baseball also took a stand, moving its All-Star game and player draft out of Atlanta. In a statement, Manfred said, “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”

Kemp’s reaction?

“[the] MLB caved to fear, lies of liberal activists and ignored the facts of the new election integrity law… Georgia is going to have secure and very accessible elections.”

Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert suggests three steps corporations and others can take in fighting a number of states with laws similar to Georgia’s waiting in the wings.

“…fund activists working to challenge the recently passed laws in Georgia. Organizations like Black Voters Matter Fund, The New Georgia Project, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, ACLU, and Southern Poverty Law Center. Patagonia is making an immediate $1 million donation split equally between the Black Voters Matter Fund and The New Georgia Project.

“The second step,” Gellert says, “is for executives to write senators in states where they conduct business, calling on them to pass the For the People Act (H.R. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). ‘As business leaders, we should use our platforms and lobbying power to advocate for federal protection and make clear that nobody—Republican or Democrat—should play politics with the right to vote,’ says Gellert.

“And the third step is for executives to commit to reaching out to business partners to facilitate speaking out against further state laws that would restrict voting access. In other words, get more business leaders to use their collective voices and influence before more of these laws get passed. Gellert cites the impact of the NCAA and NBA pulling games and major companies halting expansion plans in North Carolina in 2016 after a state bill was passed limiting LGBTQ+ protections. He praised MLB’s decision to pull this year’s All-Star Game from Atlanta and cautioned those sticking to the sidelines.”

Now the only thing remaining is to put those words into action.

“We need more businesses to take a stand and we can use our business networks to expand our advocacy,” Gellert emphasized. “Opting to stay silent while the constitutional rights of voters in Georgia and across our country are being threatened is tantamount to supporting these unjust laws. Our colleagues, clients and customers won’t forget what we do in this moment.”

Governor Kemp is up for re-election next year. Let’s see if Georgians agree with his policy… if they can navigate the minefield of new voting obstacles and long lines… without water.


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