Georgia Voting Fight

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    Georgia’s new voting law has prompted a heated national debate, involving President Biden, top Republicans and major companies. It has sometimes led to furious exchanges of allegations and counter-allegations about basic facts.

    This morning, I want to try to clarify the fight, by focusing on a few overlapping points.

    Georgia law is part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to make voting more difficult, as most Republicans believe they win when voting is low.

    There is no precise way to describe this effort other than undemocratic.

    The Republican party’s justification is “electoral honesty” – that is, preventing voter fraud. But voter fraud is exceedingly rare. There is no reason to believe that it has determined the outcome of an American election in decades. If anything, the most high-profile Recent Examples The fraud trend has increased to include Republican voters. Yet former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have repeatedly and falsely claimed otherwise.

    In true sense, the expansion of “electoral integrity” laws over the past decade is mostly a response to Barack Obama’s presidential victory. He created a consensus between the two parties, that Democrats benefited from the high turnout (which may not be true). In many states, Republicans tried to make voting harder, especially in cities and heavily black areas – through tremendous identification requirements, reduced voting hours, reduced early voting access, and more.

    Georgia’s new law accepts this pattern to a large extent. It is a response to the close loss of his party in the 2020 elections by Republican legislators and the government’s Brian Kemp. Legislation for absentee voting reduces hours, increases ID requirements, and limits the distribution of water and food to voters waiting in line.

    One provision seems clearly aimed at Atlanta, the most important source of Democrat votes: a new limit on the absentee-ballot drop box. The number of drop boxes in metropolitan Atlanta is likely to be less than 25 since 94 last year. (My colleagues Nick Corsanity and Reid Epstein have written a useful summary of the law.)

    “There is no rational motivation for the passage of his new election law other than to demonstrate jealousy by Trump for lofty false claims,” ​​The Washington Post Philip bump wrote. Perry Bacon Jr. FiveThirtyHeight put it this way: “Enactment of” This law in that state A particularly alarming sign is that attacks on the democratic norms and values ​​of the Republican Party are continuing and in some ways accelerating. “

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    Credit …John Bezemore / Associated Press

    But some Democrats have misrepresented parts of the law – and may exaggerate its potential effects.

    For example, Biden suggested that the law close the polling places at 5 pm. As already in law, the local governments should keep the polling places open till 5 pm and till 7 pm (CNN’s Daniel Dale And The Post’s Glenn Kessler Both have put Biden’s claim wrong.)

    “The entire existence of the legislation under consideration is based on a falsehood,” Tim Miller of Bulwark wrote. “But for some reason Biden and many other Dems are actually exaggerating the nuances of what they do.” In some cases, Democrats appear to be talking about provisions that the Georgia legislature considered but were not included.

    How about the effect of those provisions that are actually in law? It is inherently uncertain. But Nate Cohan of The Times has argued that the effects will be smaller than many critics suggest. He Thinks it will have little impact on overall voting or election results.

    He Explains that the law prohibits most voting, not election day voting. Early voters are more educated and more engaged in politics. They often do not vote whether it is, early or on election day. Broadly, Nate argues that minor changes to the voting facility – such as in Georgia law – have had no effect on them when other states have adopted them.

    Of course, Georgia is so closely divided that even a small influence – but, voting in Atlanta – can decide an election. And there is a more dangerous aspect in law, both as Nate and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Patricia Murphy Note: It may make it easier for state legislators to reverse future election results after counting of votes.

    Georgia’s new law intends to grab partisan power. It is an attempt to win elections by changing the rules instead of wooing more voters. This is inconsistent with the basic ideals of democracy. But if the intentions are clear, then the effect is less. It may not have the profound effect that its designers expect and its critics fear.

    Of substance Matthew Yallius Provides a useful reference: Georgia’s law is based on “a big lie”, he writes, which is certainly worrisome. But the effect is likely to be minor, he predicts. And for those concerned about the state of American democracy, laws like Georgia are not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the synergy between the electoral college, the structure of the Senate and the districts of the House all means that winning public opinion is often not enough to win elections and rule the country.

    “These big skews,” writes Yalgius, “the case very More than the marginal impact of tampering with voter ID cards or absentee voting rules. “

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    Credit …James Astrin / The New York Times
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    Credit …Callie Sherman / CW

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    Thank you for spending part of your morning with the Times. see you tomorrow. – David

    PS Hidden haiku From a Times interview with Kyle Abraham, returning to indoor rehearsals about ballet dancers: “Even the touch / touch with a friend is a new one / conversation.”

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    Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Pirasanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team themorning@nytimes.com.

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