Some actions, but first, a rant
As secretary for the Hall County Dems, I usually focus on messages that provide factual information and practical suggestions to help support our mission of electing Democrats and holding our representatives in government accountable. After this week, however, I find it impossible to simply lay out the facts about the so-called “Election Integrity” bill that the GOP rushed through the state legislature last week and that they literally ran to get Kemp’s signature on. Besides, with Mike so busy working to sort out HQ today, he doesn’t have time to write his usual weekly column, so I feel it’s a good opportunity for me to rant for a bit!
I’m sorry. I just can’t amplify the hypocritical nonsense our state House reps and state Senator are pushing out to the press. If I see or hear them call this “election integriy” one more time, when they are the ones who lapped up the lies and vitriol of Trump and his prevaricating crew and then perpetuated those lies to bolster the fear and distrust felt by their own voters, I’m afraid I’l start screaming and never stop. If you want to see what they’re saying, the Gainesville Times has an article that helps spread their lies. Whether they are fools enough to believe those lies or just cynical enough to keep repeating them to fire up their base makes no difference.
The national press is fixated on the provision in the law that criminalizes handing out water or food to those waiting in long lines. Yes, that’s terrible, especially when we know that lines in some counties were up to 9 hours long during the early voting period last year. But what’s even more appalling in this bill is the way it upends local control over elections. Republicans in the legislature gave themselves the power to take over local elections offices, raising the possibility of refusing to certify results they don’t like. They’ve stripped the authority of the Secretary of State– an elected position, and one that Dems have fielded viable candidates for in the recent past– over the state Board of Elections, so they can pick someone who will be beholden to them to chair the BOE. They’ve given themselves the authority to remove the elections supervisors of up to 4 counties at any given time for whatever reason they feel relevant. Picture the state GOP taking over elections in Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett counties and you get the picture of how bad this can get.
I ran across an article yesterday–that I’m linking to below–that addresses the symbolism of that closed-door bill-signing, with Kemp and his white male posse sitting under a painting of a Georgia plantation while Representative Park Canon was being dragged off to jail for knocking on that door. A letter to the editor at The Times asks how the visuals surrounding the signing of this law present Georgia to the world. And Gabriel Sterling had the nerve to tell PBS evening news that Democracts were being overly dramatic and full of hyperbole. We don’t have to resort to hyperbole when the GOP acts in such bad faith.
I hope I haven’t lost you during this rant, because I do have some useful, non-hyperbolic information for you as we work to ameliorate the worst effects of this terrible law. Thanks for letting me have my say.~ Denise
Here are some things you can do to fight back:.
- Learn what the bill does and does not contain. The first article below explains the majority of the provisions. Please don’t spread misinformation as you communicate with lawmakers, friends, or your community about how this bill hurts Georgians. It is bad enough without making it sound even worse than it is.
- Contact our representatives in Congress. Yes, we can count on Senators Warnock and Ossoff to do the right thing if and when the Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act are presented for a vote in the Senate, but they need to hear that they have your support. And yes, Andrew Clyde will undoubtedly vote against any bills that protect voting rights, but he needs to know that not everyone in GA09 is a red-hatted, insurrection-supporting right-wing white supremacist.
- Support groups taking action to combat the new law. Find an organization that focuses on voting rights and support it however you can. If you can afford to donate, great. If not, volunteer your time or talents to help them get out their message and do the work.
- Don’t lose hope. Read below how one poor, rural county is already taking action to bring consequences to one of the bill’s main architects. If these people can fight back, so can we.
- Take a long view. Even if we’re successful in preventing the most egregious sections of the bill from being enforced, this battle is nationwide and will continue for the foreseeable future. Commit to countering efforts to disenfranchise voters as part of your ongoing work to address the major issues of our time: racism, climate crisis, and the ongoing threat to our functional democracy.