Election 2022

If Georgia's Election Law Was Supposed To Suppress the Vote, It Sure Did a Bad Job

After bracing for a supposed return of Jim Crow, Georgia saw a major increase in early votes in this week's primaries.

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On Tuesday, voters in Georgia and Alabama cast ballots in primaries to determine their respective parties' local, state, and federal nominees for November. In Georgia, it was the first spate of federal elections since the passage of last year's controversial new voting bill, S.B. 202. The bill's opponents called it "Jim Crow 2.0," but voters this week turned out in record numbers.

S.B. 202, the "Election Integrity Act of 2021," was passed by Republican state lawmakers in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Many states, including Georgia, changed voting rules during that election cycle in attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Often, these changes were made by judges, and were challenged by local election officials, who, in some cases, struggled to comply with expanded early voting hours or more generous deadlines for returning ballots.

S.B. 202 was intended, in part, to clarify or change some of those rules. The law extended the period during which counties are required to offer early voting, and mandated at least one ballot drop box. It also imposed tougher ID requirements for absentee ballots, as well as narrowing the window in which voters can request them.

When the bill passed, opponents said it was tantamount to voter suppression. Charles Blow of The New York Times characterized the law as "Jim Crow 2.0," invoking the decades-long period when state and local laws throughout the South deprived black Americans of constitutional rights and liberties. The ACLU of Georgia called it "Georgia's Anti-Voter Law." President Joe Biden said that the law "makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." The Department of Justice announced that it would sue to attempt to block the law.

Now, in the first test case, it seems that critics' worst fears did not come to pass. As of Sunday, publicly available voting data from the Georgia Secretary of State show that more than 850,000 Georgians participated in early voting, either in person or by returning an absentee ballot. This was more than double the early vote numbers from similar midterm elections in 2018. Preliminary numbers from Election Day indicate a similarly impressive in-person turnout.

Critics of the bill have responded that an uptick in votes does not mean the law did not have a suppressive effect: "It could well mean that voters overcame those hurdles, and that means that time and money were put into efforts to assure that voters could overcome those hurdles," Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California Irvine, told The New York Times.

According to the numbers from the Secretary of State, about 56 percent of early primary ballots cast were Republican, about 43 percent were Democratic, and fewer than 1 percent were non-partisan. This might seem out of balance for a state that has drawn closer and closer to being truly half Republican and half Democratic, especially since the 2020 Democratic primary for Georgia's Senate seat saw Democratic voters cast 1,186,660 ballots.

But there was much more excitement on the Republican side of the ticket in this week's primary: Both the governor and secretary of state faced serious challengers, while the two biggest names on the Democratic side—Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock—did not. Abrams ran unopposed, and Warnock took over 96 percent of the vote against a single challenger.

Georgia's new laws are in line with—and, in some cases, even less restrictive than—those in place in many other states all across the country. Even if it's impossible to prove that S.B. 202 did not keep any Georgians from exercising their right to vote, it remains a problematic piece of legislation. It was seemingly passed in direct retaliation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's refusal to subvert the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, and it removes the secretary as a voting member of the State Election Board. Additionally, the board can now "suspend" county election superintendents and "appoint" a replacement, who retains the power to replace election officials, including "the director of elections, the election supervisor, and all poll officers." In practice, this has resulted in Democratic local officials being replaced with Republican appointees.

Over time, that sea change may indeed turn out to negatively effect black voters. But in this primary, there is no evidence that Georgia's voter law depressed turnout for either party.

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60 responses to “If Georgia's Election Law Was Supposed To Suppress the Vote, It Sure Did a Bad Job

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  2. The definition of voter suppression is any election Dems don't win. What other reason could there be?

    1. "Now, in the first test case, it seems that critics' worst fears did not come to pass."

      Oh yes they did. The new law had no effect, rendering all their hysterical pearl-clutching ridiculous.

      "Critics of the bill have responded that an uptick in votes does not mean the law did not have a suppressive effect: 'It could well mean that voters overcame those hurdles, and that means that time and money were put into efforts to assure that voters could overcome those hurdles,' Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California Irvine, told The New York Times."

      OH SHUT UP

  3. Glad you could be shamed into this article Joe.

    1. What's hilarious is the multitude of articles Reason wrote arguing that the GA law would "suppress" votes

      1. Nobody is going to apologize for this nonsense. Fucking Major League Baseball intentionally moved the all-star game out of the state because they were so pissed about this dangerous law-which of course, had a mostly disparate impact on the minorities they were so concerned about.

        Is there going to be any apology coming? From Anywhere? Maybe this article is the closest we'll get from Reason.

        1. Probably about the same time we get apologies from Reason Editors for using the word "credible" for Kavanaugh's rape accuser. Or, an apology from Sullum for 100+ articles slamming Trump while not providing any critical analysis of Joe Biden.

          1. Is that before or after they apologize for their Trump Russia coverage and start covering what’s happening in the Sussman trial means?

  4. Warnock took over 96 percent of the vote against a single challenger

    So if you vote for Hershel Walker, you're a racist, just like David Perdue. Right, Joe?

  5. Suppression didn't really mean suppression. Like defund the police didn't really mean defund. Or Medicare for all doesn't really mean Medicare.

    1. Or if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.

    2. Or "for all".

  6. In a new Rasmussen Reports survey that backed up reform efforts in Georgia and other states, 59% said it was more important to make sure “there is no cheating in elections.” Just 39% said “making it easier for everybody to vote” should be the focus of reforms.

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/washington-secrets/stopping-cheaters-tops-making-voting-easy

    1. Democracy is literally hanging by a thread and you want opinion polls to determine how we run elections?

  7. WaPo did an article on this in which they quoted a black voter who stated (paraphrased) 'I heard all this stuff about how much harder it was going to be to vote, how they were going to deny me the right to vote. So I came prepared to deal with a bunch of hurdles, and it's actually been the easiest vote I've ever cast in my life and the best ran election site I've ever visited. I don't know what all the worry was about'. Several others mirrored his remarks. Hyperbole backfires when stacked against real life experience.

    1. Don't worry for the election in November it will be jacked up to 12 on the hysterics

      1. We will probably be at war by then, so a temporary delay in voting will be necessary.

        1. Don't you understand that democracy dies when they can't stuff the ballot boxes?

        2. At war with each other or with Russia?

  8. Critics of the bill have responded that an uptick in votes does not mean the law did not have a suppressive effect: "It could well mean that voters overcame those hurdles, and that means that time and money were put into efforts to assure that voters could overcome those hurdles," Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California Irvine, told The New York Times.

    "There's no evidence worth examining, I've already made up my mind. The only thing that would convince me is evidence that is going to impossible to calculate properly."

    1. It turns how minorities aren't the dumb animals democrats thought they were and could actually get ID and read the voting process.

      1. Regardless of your skin color, if you're too stupid to get a proper ID, maybe you shouldn't vote. Of course, Dems love them some low IQ voters.

        1. It's like Biden said, "I love the poorly educated!"

          1. ‘And some poor kids are as smart as white kids’

    2. Evidence contrary to my opinion just proves my opinion even more.

    3. Correct me if I'm wrong here Chet, but did Richard Hasen, Professor of Law, just assert that he knows or has proof that people paid money to overcome election laws?

      1. Fortified.

    4. It *could* mean anything. Does the *LAW* professor have any evidence? He doesn't present any. Do they still teach about evidence in law school?

  9. Even if it's impossible to prove that S.B. 202 did not keep any Georgians from exercising their right to vote, it remains a problematic piece of legislation.

    When that's the one thing everyone was screaming about as being wrong with the bill, this going to be a hard sell. Try to convince me.

    It was seemingly passed in direct retaliation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's refusal to subvert the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, and it removes the secretary as a voting member of the State Election Board. Additionally, the board can now "suspend" county election superintendents and "appoint" a replacement, who retains the power to replace election officials, including "the director of elections, the election supervisor, and all poll officers."

    So it was seemingly something, which is a huge problem that something was seemingly a problem. Keep in mind, this came after Stacey Abrams thought it was unbelievable corrupt for the Secretary of State to be voting on Elections Boards when he was running for Governor in 2018. Double standard that it's now a major problem that Republicans actually changed that for some reason? Also, why did you link the same NYT article twice? I'll assume it was an accident, but considering Reason's practice of sprinkling in links that don't actually prove the asserted point, just often point to it being asserted previously in reason and using the link to make people assume it's been proven, I'm taking that with a grain of salt.

    A big reason the state election board wants more control over the county level is that they're tired of hearing complaints, every single election, that Fulton County can't get their shit together and there are massively long lines. Then they claim that the long lines are an attempt to suppress the black vote in Atlanta because Atlanta election officials are incompetent and yet never get replaced. At least having some level of state-level accountability promises some kind of recourse.

    1. Yeah. In the 2020 elections, first Fulton (metro Atlanta) fouled up the primary, making people wait in four-hour lines, then fouled up the general election by botching the counts, requiring multiple recounts to get two successive tallies to even come close to each other. Then the Fulton Board of Commissioners refused to fire the election superintendent. That's what provoked the Legislature into action.

  10. "Many states, including Georgia, changed voting rules during that election cycle in attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Often, these changes were made by judges, and were challenged by local election officials, who, in some cases, struggled to comply with expanded early voting hours or more generous deadlines for returning ballots." - Jon Lancaster

    What you left out here, is that many of these changes were made illegally. The law requires changes to be made by a specific process. Anything outside of that process is illegal. Using a "plandemic" to justify illegal changes to voting rules, is immoral at best. Criminal, for sure.

    Additionally, some changes were made inconsistently, which is also illegal. Detroit was a great example. City voting officials decided, outside of the legal process, that they could just eliminate auditing their voters by precinct. No surprise to anyone with critical thinking skills, Detroit voted for Joe Biden at nearly a 98% clip. And don't even get me started on the bullshit in PA.

    1. Detroit voted for Joe Biden at nearly a 98% clip.

      Fucking dictators don't get that much of the vote. But totally no fraud whatsoever.

      1. No widespread fraud.

        1. Fraud within normal parameters!

          1. Most secure election ever.

  11. Wasn't there a study a while back that found out that black voter turn out increases when you have secure elections? This result seems entirely expected in light of that.

    1. That's almost universally been the experience when voting id laws and regulations are enacted. And it's not just blacks, it everyone. Some have tried to account for this by saying it compels people to overcome these laws, like a reverse Streisand effect. Of course these people are like the professor quoted. Trying to find a way to prove their confirmation bias.

      1. "I'm never wrong. I'm just right for the wrong reasons."

        1. "Being wrong for the wrong reason is two wrongs, which make a right."

  12. Ms. Abrams contends that this primary shows no validation of the voting law, since there were no contenders for the Governor or the Senate seat on the Democrat side. What she is essentially saying is the law works against the Democrats and for the Republicans. And of course, she gives no evidence or reasoning.

  13. Democrats: We will NOT let facts get in the way of our narrative!

  14. >>changed voting rules during that election cycle in attempts to

    lie, cheat and steal.

  15. "...refusal to subvert..." certainly has an editorial smell about it. Or partisan.
    Poorly edited article in any case.

    1. A more accurate statement would be he refused to undo his subversion of state voting law, but what would Joe & Sullum write if not DNC hackery.

  16. "It was seemingly passed in direct retaliation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's refusal to subvert the results of the 2020 election in Georgia"

    A lie. He wasn't asked to do any such thing.

    "In practice, this has resulted in Democratic local officials being replaced with Republican appointees."

    It's not the Republicans' fault that the least competent local elections administrators are all Democrats.

  17. I doubt they really thought it was "vote suppression" as such. Rather, Democrats have a very limited vocabulary for complaining about things. Everything they don't like is "racist", and if it's election related and they don't like it, it's also "vote suppression".

    But such terms really only communicate that they don't like something.

    1. Or maybe they really were concerned about the new laws suppressing votes from non-citizens or from people who had already voted or people who had moved away.

    2. Oh it suppresses votes; illegal votes. So they're being honest. Look at the last election:

      1. PA - eliminate verification process for votes - Dems
      2. GA - counting votes after sending everyone else home. Dems
      3. Detroit - remove precinct level auditing - Dems
      4. Milwaukee - again, hundreds of thousands of votes coming in the wee hours of the morning, after everyone goes home. Votes go 97% in favor of Democrat, Joe Biden
      5. Somehow, 81 million votes for a candidate that couldn't get 2 dozen people at a campaign rally.
      6. Democrats sue to keep auditors from auditing the AZ election.

      Definitely, the most honest election ever!

      1. All that and almost no rejection of ballots. I guess everyone had time during COVID lockdowns to get better at filling out the ballots they weren't smart enough to fill out in prior elections.

  18. Bad article. Total numbers are not relevant. It is about percentages. If voter suppression can suppress just a few percent of the disfavored voters, it will have the intended effect. Much more careful study would be needed to see if that is happening.

    1. ,so just no WIDESPREAD suppression?

    2. In the same way that having just 120% voter turnout in a few key counties with all of the ballots for one candidate, and the majority not casting any downballot votes had the intended effect. Except that actually happened.

      Do you typically register the underage kids you fuck to vote and that's why this is such an important issue to you, shreek?

  19. "Now, in the first test case, it seems that critics' worst fears did not come to pass. As of Sunday, publicly available voting data from the Georgia Secretary of State show that more than 850,000 Georgians participated in early voting, either in person or by returning an absentee ballot. This was more than double the early vote numbers from similar midterm elections in 2018. Preliminary numbers from Election Day indicate a similarly impressive in-person turnout."

    MG - Reading comprehension isn't really that difficult. But I guess math is hard and racist.

  20. Reading the comments from the progressives at the WaPo were hilarious. The completely dishonest mental gymnastics they underwent was impressive.

    1. We should expatriate them somewhere that none of this matters. Like Antarctica.

  21. Bad news for liberals, voters are not as dumb as they need them to be. They can actually get an ID

  22. Dear Reason,

    Please remove the word "problematic" from your style guide.

    Thanks in advance,

    Signed, Everyone.

  23. It's almost as if Georgia's election law was never intended to suppress the vote and the people peddling that bullshit were all racist pieces of shit White Saviors flogging it for cheap political points.

  24. Congrats on somehow still managing to work a Law of Merited Impossibility angle in there though you unscrupulous lying piece of shit.

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