There’s no doubt that there are faults and flaws in the American system of democracy. When I taught, my students learned that American democracy was established under the principle of one-man-one-vote/majority rules. Indigenous people, Black people, women and other groups weren’t allowed to vote. Whichever white man got the most votes “ran the show.” There were, and always have been, schemes to unfairly shift the balance of political power. My students also learned that our political model was established under a two-party system where compromise was ostensibly sought to achieve consensus.
Today, rather than seeking compromise, legislating is tantamount to combat. Data tells us that nationally the Republican Party stands in the minority, yet rather than adhering to founding principles, they use every available tactic to ensure the “rule of the minority.”
Recently, the Republican legislature sent a bill to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp which he signed enacting voting restrictions aimed at communities of color. Objective observers view this new law as a “revenge law” for Democratic success in the 2020 general elections designed to prevent future election successes of non-Republican candidates.
Analysts attempt to justify the Georgia law by comparing it to laws of more progressive states. This is a false narrative. The history of discriminatory voting practices in southern states in general, and Georgia specifically, is proof. My friend Dick Gregory often said, “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.”
Commonly, objection to the new law is that it was enacted in response to “Trump’s Big Lie” of a stolen election. The length of the 98-page law prevents a complete review, but research by Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter Stephen Fowler condensed the law and I will attempt to condense it further. The new law provides for:
A food-and-drink restriction
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported an average wait time for an African American voter in Georgia was 51 minutes, in contrast to the average wait time of seven minutes for a white voter. Criminalizing the distribution of food and beverages to waiting voters has an obvious and irrefutable disparate impact upon African American voters.
Increased state power over counties
The new law removes the Georgia secretary of state as the chair of the state elections board and allows the state legislature to appoint a “nonpartisan” chair of the board. Accordingly, this board is empowered to determine whether county elections have been properly executed, and, if not, the legislature could use administrative remedy to correct them. This supports the likelihood that a recurrence of Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election could be successful. This provision concerns officials and activists in large Democrat-ran counties such as Atlanta’s Fulton County.
Guaranteed — limited — drop boxes
The new law also limits ballot drop boxes in each county, as well as their hours of availability and location. Fulton County would go from 38 drop boxes to eight in the future. The law states that drop boxes need to be located at elections offices or inside early voting locations.
Additionally, the law alters or gives options for procedures to early and absentee voting. I encourage readers to familiarize and understand the new law and what it means to our communities. We already know that Texas and Arizona are considering similar legislation.
Brian Kemp is a self-serving politician who will discriminate to maintain his power. True to his discriminatory self-interests, the signing was done behind closed doors with six white cronies observing. When Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon knocked on Kemp’s door to bear witness to this modern jelly bean jar, she did it for us! We must likewise be willing to open the doors of racism and expose its ugly face to all. Keep on knocking, Park!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.