Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Georgia Crackers & Banana Republicans Waffle Again

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 9, 2021

So they got their clocks unexpectedly cleaned in the November General Election, and now, they don’t like it.

And what do they do?

Change the rules, because they don’t like them any more.

That’s right!

Where, or in what sport does that ever occur – that the losing team seeks rule changes after a loss, because they lost?

None.

Why?

Because respectable teams understand that their losses are exclusively because of poor playing skills, including faulty strategy, bad tactics, and nothing more. And in politics, it boils down to the questions how well have you treated the people? What have you done FOR them to help, and benefit them?

Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling, pictured in November 2020, pushed back on false claims about voter fraud. But he supports some Republican initiatives to change voting laws, saying it could help elections administrators.

It’s only been 16 years since Republicans last changed the voting rules in Georgia, and… well, read this article by Georgia Public Broadcasting about the matter -AND- the article by NPR in which Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Chief Operating Officer for the Secretary of State’s office, is interviewed.

“In 2005, the year that Republicans gained control of state government after decades of Democratic domination, HB 244 was a 59-page bill that contained nearly 70 revisions of state election code, including two major changes: adding a photo ID requirement for in-person voting and allowing Georgians to vote by mail without an excuse, and without an ID.

“At the time, Democrats and voting rights groups adamantly opposed both measures. Lawmakers compared the photo ID requirement to Jim Crow laws and warned that Georgia would have some of the country’s most restrictive voting procedures. The addition of no-excuse absentee voting did not reassure Democrats, either. In an eerie inversion of today’s positions, they argued that it would introduce a system ripe for abuse.

““By removing restrictions related to mailed absentee ballots, HB 244 opens a greater opportunity for fraud,” former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, then a Democratic state senator, wrote in an op-ed. “Skeptics might point out that absentee voters have historically voted for Republicans in higher numbers.”

“Among the lawmakers who voted for the bill were Gov. Brian Kemp (then a state senator), House Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Jon Burns, Senate Rules chairman Jeff Mullis, Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer (then a state senator) and Reps. Terry England, Sharon Cooper, Ed Setzler, Lynn Smith and Barry Fleming, author of the current House omnibus which is one of the bills that would add an ID requirement to absentee ballots and applications.

“Democrats who opposed the 2005 bill included current Sen. Minority Leader Gloria Butler, Sens. Ed Harbison, Horacena Tate, Kasim Reed and Reps. Debbie Buckner, Roger Bruce, MARTOC chair Mary Margaret Oliver, and Calvin Smyre, currently the longest-serving member of the House, among others.

“Democrats said at the time that requiring photo ID to vote in person would disenfranchise lower-income, older and non-white voters, while pressing the idea that expanded no-excuse absentee voting without an ID requirement was an invitation to fraud.

““This bill would actually open the door wide to opportunities for voter fraud because it allows voting by mail where you present no identification whatsoever,” Democratic Secretary of State Cathy Cox said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. “So those parts of the bill really don’t jive in my mind in terms of any real effort to crack down on what someone perceives to be voting fraud.”

“Fast forward to 2021: There has been no evidence of widespread fraud with absentee-by-mail voting and, until the 2018 governor’s race, the relative few voters that used absentee ballots skewed older, whiter and more Republican.

“A record number of Georgians participated in the November general election thanks in part to expanded voting rules and procedures pushed by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Demographic changes and a surge in automatic voter registrations have shifted statewide politics to razor-thin margins, and Democrats took advantage of no-excuse absentee voting to flip the state’s electoral votes and both U.S. Senate seats.

“In the elections debate following the 2020 presidential race, the arguments might sound familiar. Former President Donald Trump and other top Republicans have questioned the security of the more than 1.3 million absentee ballots cast by Georgians in the November election, claimed that the state’s method of matching signatures to verify absentee ballots opened the door to fraud, and proposed sweeping changes to fix the system.

Raffensperger told GPB News that adding an ID requirement to absentee ballots seemed like a logical solution given the complaints from both sides of the aisle.

“A year ago we were being sued by the Democrats,” Raffensperger said in the interview. “They did not like signature match, they said it was unconstitutional and now the Republicans are saying the same thing. Well, you guys are both singing off the same song sheet now, so maybe now we need a verifiable photo ID component with the absentee ballot process.”

“Gov. Brian Kemp supported no-excuse absentee voting in 2005, and by the end of his run as secretary of state in 2018, touted Georgia as a national leader in election law because of the state’s absentee rules, automatic voter registration and at least 16 days of in-person early voting — a distinction that his successor Raffensperger touts at the bottom of every press release.

“But other Republican legislators have changed their stances on the state’s election laws over the past decade-and-a-half.”
–––MORE–––

Georgia is recognized as a national leader in elections. It was the first state in the country to implement the trifecta of automatic voter registration, at least 16 days of early voting (which has been called the “gold standard”), and no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia continues to set records for voter turnout and election participation, seeing the largest increase in average turnout of any other state in the 2018 midterm election and record turnout in 2020, with over 1.3 million absentee by mail voters and over 3.6 million in-person voters utilizing Georgia’s new, secure, paper ballot voting system.

See: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/elections/state_election_board_invites_dominion_voting_systems_to_discuss_2020_statewide_voting_system_implementation

See: Georgia Senate Republicans Pass Bill To End No-Excuse Absentee Voting
by Stephen Fowler
March 8, 2021; 6:07 PM ET
https://www.npr.org/2021/03/08/974985725/georgia-senate-republicans-pass-bill-to-end-no-excuse-absentee-voting

Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling gained national attention a few months ago by pushing back against former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. 

But Republican state lawmakers in Georgia, inspired by those falsehoods, have introduced a handful of bills that would increase barriers to voting for some people.


Georgia Elections Official Gabriel Sterling Responds To Bills That Make Voting Harder

March 9, 2021; 5:04 AM ET

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/09/974948010/georgia-elections-official-gabriel-sterling-responds-to-bills-that-make-voting-h

Georgia is among 43 states that are considering similar legislation, according to the Brennan Center.

Sterling, a Republican who is now the chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, says some of the measures backed by Republican Georgia state lawmakers go too far. 

But he argues that many of the proposals could end up helping elections administrators.

There was no widespread fraud in Georgia, he says, but there were small numbers of double voting, out-of-state voting and felons voting. Rules involving photo IDs could make things easier for elections workers, he says.

“In a state like Georgia, where the election is getting closer and closer, every vote’s going to count,” Sterling says. “And anything we can do to make the system more secure and provide confidence to everybody, that’s the kind of things that we need to be focusing on.”

Sterling talked with NPR’s Scott Detrow on Morning Edition about the proposals under consideration and why he opposes the Democrat-backed voting rights bill that passed the U.S. House last week.

Here are excerpts of the interview:

One proposal would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting and add voter ID requirements for absentee voting. This is being characterized by many voting rights groups as nothing more than a response to the fact that Democrats won Georgia Senate races and the presidential race last year and that Democrats used absentee voting more than Republicans. Are they wrong?

––MORE––

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