Voting in Georgia is already not simple. Given what we know about voter suppression efforts (especially in red states), this is not surprising, but it is incredibly upsetting. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, Senate Bill 29, which was introduced on Wednesday, Jan. 27, could make it even harder to vote. Let’s look at what the bill involves and how this would create even more voter disenfranchisement in the state.
In order to cast an absentee ballot, Georgia voters would have to make photocopies of their photo ID (like a driver’s license or passport) and mail them to election officials twice. Yes, twice. Georgia voters would have to submit ID both when requesting an absentee ballot and when submitting your ballot. People who live overseas or are members of the military would be exempt.
So why is this legislation proposal such a big deal? From the start, we know that there haven’t actually been instances of widespread fraud via vote-by-mail, including in the most recent election cycle. There’s no actual need to add more barriers under the guise of protection or being more confident in election security. What’s the likely latent motivation? Making it harder for marginalized folks to vote.
On a logistical level, it’s as big a barrier as it is to have a photo ID (which, for reference, is also needed if you vote in person in Georgia, and is needed when you register to vote in the first place), but asking people to also access a printer or photocopier is also a burden. If you don’t have one at home (keeping in mind that some people do not have the internet, much less a computer), you need to find time to go to a library (or elsewhere) to access one, and potentially pay for the printing.
If you live with certain disabilities, have health issues, have children or dependents at home, or simply are too busy juggling obligations, those extra steps can create an enormous burden. Many people already find voting to be a confusing, stressful process; making people send multiple copies of a photo ID starts to really wear down the convenience factor of vote-by-mail.
You also need to get the two envelopes and two stamps, adding to the cost of the process in both time and money. To vote.
As reported by the Associated Press, some Georgia Republicans also support banning drop boxes and requiring an excuse to vote by absentee ballot. All seemingly small changes that make voting more and more exclusive.
Given that we’re still facing the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that people turned to the safety and convenience of voting by mail. We also know that Democrats, in general, are more likely to vote by mail. So, of course, Georgia Republicans want to stomp down on that voter block. And, of course, it’s up to us to fight these blatant voter suppression efforts.