Georgia Voter Access Under Attack…Again

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Political Insider column earlier this month proclaimed “Bill would shorten early voting period”.  Yes, Republicans in the Georgia legislature are trying to reduce access to the polls by reducing the early voting period for Georgians once again.  They want to reduce the early voting period from three weeks to two weeks.

The success of Georgia’s first early voting period during the 2008 presidential election was hailed huge success by progressives.  Voter turnout reached its peak and almost 50% of voters exercised their right to vote before Election Day. That early voting period was six weeks.  In 2010, early voting was successful again and over 30% of voters participated.

Georgia Republicans took notice. Even though Georgia remained solidly red, the increase in voter participation concerned some. After the 2010 midterm election, the early voting period was shortened from six weeks to three weeks.  According to media coverage at the time, most voters voted early in the last three weeks and the cost to keep polls open for an additional three weeks did not make sense to a majority of legislators.

Reading between the lines, some in the Georgia Republican Party seem to be scared of increased voter participation. Georgia’s minority and young adult population, who are polled as less likely republican voters, are growing and the more chances they get to vote, the less likely Georgia will remain Republican-controlled.

However, Democrats believe that the more voters that vote, the better chance Democrats have to defeat Republicans in Georgia.

It comes down to policy. Trickle-down economic policy, divisive religious liberty bills, and no taxes at any cost won’t appeal to the majority of future Georgia voters.  Restricting the electorate is one way to keep control and it appears Georgia Republicans are willing to do whatever it takes, under the guise of efficiently, to keep control.

Republican Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State, and person responsible for administering elections in Georgia warned his colleagues about restricting access to the polls last November when questioned about the Sunday voting.  According to Kemp, voters should be given every opportunity to vote and anything done to prevent that could backfire.

Further evidence that Georgia Republicans are playing politics with voting access appeared in the AJC last week. The AJC reporters leaked speculated that the reason the early voting proposal hasn’t been taken up by the Georgia House Rules Committee is that House Republicans need House Democrats to pass legislation this cycle. What a shame.

To think that access to the polls is being used as a political football by Georgia Republicans is disgusting. The fact that these same Republicans think Democrats will play ball is even more disturbing.  Let’s hope they are wrong.

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