• April 14, 2024

‘Jim Eagle’ and Georgia’s Voting Law

Georgia passed its over-hyped electoral law on Thursday, and the news was taken with more of it. President Biden said at his news conference that the electoral laws that seeped into the GOP legislation are “un-American,” “sick,” “harmful” and worse, “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”

Come on man, as Mr. Biden likes to say. The comparison is grotesque, and since it only takes a minute to swim sideways to escape the stream of media narrative. Take a look at what is actually in the legislation – and what is not.

The new Georgian law leaves the Sunday vote in effect, a point of contention with previous proposals, as black churches have a tradition of “souls for elections” after services. Rather, the legislature decided to extend the early weekend vote nationwide by requiring two Saturdays instead of just one under current law. In total, Georgia is offering three weeks of early voting, which began on October 12th last year. This isn’t exactly limiting: compare that to early voting, which began in New York on October 24th last year.

The new law also provides for postal voting without excuses. Any eligible Georgian voter can still request a postal ballot to make this easier – or for no reason. Again, this is hardly limiting: more than a dozen states, including Connecticut and Delaware, require a valid apology from mail voters.

What does Georgian law do? First, it removes signature matching so that poll workers don’t try to verify the postal vote by comparing John Hancocks. This subjective process should affect both sides. It creates avenues for controversial outcomes, fighting for ambiguous signatures. In 2018, around 2,400 ballots in Georgia were rejected because of problems with the signature or the oath, according to an article recently published in Political Research Quarterly. 54% of these voters were black.

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