Last week I wrote about the passage of H.B. 531 in the Georgia House of Representatives and S.B. 241 which passed the Georgia State Senate earlier this month. Provisions of these two bills include:
- Reducing the number of voting precincts
- Requiring photo ID for mail-in ballots
- Ending no-excuse absentee voting
- Disposing ballots cast in the wrong precinct
- Restricting the use of mail-in drop boxes
- Eliminating automatic voter registration
- Making “line warming” a crime (offering water and snacks to voters waiting in line to vote)
- Limiting voting hours
- Limiting weekend early voting to only one Saturday before Election Day (eliminating Sunday voting)
It is no accident that those most at risk from these bills are Black Americans.
In the 2020 election, vote-by-mail usage increased for all racial groups. However, it increased less for White voters in Georgia than for others. The share of White mail votes dropped from 67% in 2016 to 54% in 2020; the Black share increased from 23% to 31%. As the chart below shows, nearly 30% of Black voters cast their ballots by mail in 2020 while only 24% of White voters did so.
In addition, ending Sunday voting will adversely impact Black Americans. Black voters (who make up 30% of the registered electorate in Georgia) accounted for 36.5% of Sunday voters, but just 26.8% of early in-person voters on other days. On the other hand, 60% of the voters who voted early on other days were White (53% of registered voters in Georgia are White). Barring counties from holding early in-person voting on Sundays would disproportionately impact Black Georgians.
As Americans, we should be outraged by these attempts to roll back voting rights. Voter suppression is always unacceptable; the impact of these efforts will undermine our democracy. We know that the best defense against oppression is a fully functioning democracy. When the rights of some are taken away, the freedoms of all are imperiled.
We can and must fight every voter suppression bill. For now, I am suggesting that we appeal to those large organizations, headquartered in Georgia, to use their clout to lobby the houses of the Georgia legislature to scrap these bills.
I urge you to write, call or email the following CEOs, who sit at the head of organizations domiciled in Georgia. It is important for them to know that Americans across the country are paying attention to what is going on in that state’s legislature.
2455 Paces Ferry Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30339
One Coca-Cola Plaza NW
Atlanta, GA 30301
1932 Wynnton Rd
Columbus, GA 31999
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, GA 30320
55 Glenlake Pkwy, NE
Atlanta, GA 30328
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
233 Peachtree St., NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
We cannot become complacent. In much the same way that COVID has attacked the physical health of our communities, voter suppression attacks the soul of our nation by undermining the essence of the democracy that so many have fought so hard to nurture and protect. Now is the time to work to build an America that is democratic, just, and free.