I am deeply troubled today because your rights as voters are under attack. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 202 into law on March 25, 2021, in private. The Constitution says that states shall make no laws that abridge your right to vote. We assert that the bill abridges your voting rights, which is in opposition to your Constitutional rights under several Constitutional Amendments. Republican voters and Democratic voters are affected by SB 202, Make no mistake…this new law affects everyone. We live in American, in a democracy, and the democracy is under attack.
On March 25, 2021, in Georgia, Senate Bill 202 (SB 202) was passed. You may ask, “Why should I care about SB 202?” Here’s why:
The unfounded allegations of voter fraud in Georgia is simply a “Big Lie” or misinformation.
Your right to vote is now restricted, irrespective of your political affiliation.
If you work two jobs and can’t get to the polls on election day, your access to an absentee ballot box is restricted.
The new law says that counties may only have one (1) dropbox per every 100,000 active registered voters in the county, which disenfranchises voters who live near the county’s boundaries. According to Census.gov, Liberty County has 61,435 residents and only 44,048 of those citizens are 18 years of age or older. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office (Georgia Secretary of State, 2021), Liberty County has only 37,695 active registered voters.
If you cannot drop off your absentee ballot inside at your county elections office during normal business hours, you cannot use an absentee ballot dropbox.
If you are a college student, your access to voting is restricted
If you do not have government-issued identification, your request for an absentee ballot will not be approved, without submitting documents that may expose you to identity theft.
If you stand in line to vote, in the hot Georgia sun, and are elderly, disabled, diabetic, become dehydrated, hypoglycemic, or are otherwise in need of food or drink, it is now illegal for anyone to give you food or drink (except a poll worker)
Any registered voter can challenge YOUR (and an unlimited number of other voters’) eligibility to vote, which could result in YOU being purged from the voter rolls.
The bill dramatically reduces the number of Early Voting days in run-off elections
SB 202 takes power away from the elected Secretary of State and allows state officials (political appointees) to take over county boards of elections.
Georgia SB 202 is not an elections security bill, as was stated by Governor Brian Kemp on March 26, as he was interviewed by news media in Waycross, Georgia. There is no evidence that Georgia elections are not secure, as was proven by the legal result of the more than 60 lawsuits filed during the 2020 election season by the former president and GOP lawmakers. Governor Kemp and some Republican legislators have alleged that this new law will help restore voter confidence. Well, there is no credible evidence that the confidence of Georgia voters has weakened. So, what needed to be fixed in Georgia Election Law? Nothing. Amid a pandemic, in 2020, Georgia had the largest voter turnout in its history.
According to multiple widely publicized television and print media interviews, Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, the 2020 election was fair and that Georgia “had safe, secure honest elections.” That statement was affirmed repeatedly by the deputy election official, judges who decided groundless lawsuits brought by the former president, and several political analysts who studied the data.
Many Liberty County Democrats, I included, participated in the second and third recounts of the presidential election sitting alongside Republican colleagues and we observed and agreed (verbally and in writing when required), that there was no evidence of fraud or error in ballot counting. Absentee ballot boxes were observed by security cameras and were managed under strict election rules. Our local election officials, the Liberty County Board of Elections, and representatives of both the Republican and Democratic Parties had fair and equal access to observe our election process and there is no reason to restrict the rights of so many of our citizens to vote. Liberty County election officials have done an outstanding job administering and processing our 2020 election, and we don’t find it appropriate for a political appointee to govern our county’s election process.
There is a long-standing and egregious history of some politicians on the right trying to restrict the voting rights of women, people of color, students, the poor, and uneducated voters. From the poll taxes of 1877 to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, to gerrymandering, to the voter suppression of 2018 and attempts in 2020, there has been an intentional effort to restrict the access of certain voters to the ballot box. Why? Let’s look at the last four years:
Could it be that the audacity of the historic 2018 gubernatorial candidacy of Stacey Abrams, a Black woman, came a little too close to being successful?
Could it be that Joe Biden a Democrat and Kamala Harris, a Black and Asian woman defeated two White male Republicans for the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States in 2020?
Could it be that the racist former president’s supporters still believe the “Big Lie” that the presidential election was stolen?
Could it be that Georgia officials were threatened by the former president?
Could it be that the former president of the United States has declared war on Democrats and Georgia and that SB 202 is the “conciliatory white flag”?
Could it be that Georgia had the highest voter turnout among young people and that 70 percent of all young people reported voting early or absentee during the 2020 general election?
Or could it be that two Democrats, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, an African American man, and Jon Ossoff, a Jewish man defeated two White Republicans in the U.S. Senate creating a Democratic congressional majority?
Could it be that the Insurrection of January 6, 2021, did not deter the U.S. Congress from carrying out its duties?
Could it be that Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Black woman, who had the idea that the signing of a massive elections bill should be witnessed by an elected representative of the people was somehow wrong and that she should be “punished” with two felony charges for knocking on the governor’s door?
Could it be that a historic number of women have run or are currently running for elected office, and they/we are not staying “in our place”?
Could it be that Democrats, young voters, women, and people of color are using their votes and voices to protest racial injustice, criminal justice reform, climate change, women’s rights, corruption, or insurrection?
Or is it just the establishment of racism, ageism, sexism, wealth, and power that want to stop us from voting?
I could go on, but here is the point. Over 200,000 Georgians don’t have driver’s licenses and would therefore not be able to vote absentee. Many of our voters are elderly, disabled, college students, poor, or otherwise logistically disadvantaged regarding the ballot box.
Let’s be clear. Not only is this un-American, but it is also Jim Crow 3.0! To have a governor sign a controversial elections law amidst a group of only White men, in front of a photo of a plantation, in private (only live-streamed), says everything. For far too long, women, poor people, people of color, and the uneducated have been discriminated against, marginalized, and dismissed, and we reject it. History will not be kind to the Georgia Republican legislators who are trampling on our democracy.
Our Democrat platform says, “…We must steel and strengthen our democracy, not distort and debase it. Democrats believe there is nothing to fear from the voices and votes of the American people. We will restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act and stamp out voter suppression in all its forms…” SB 202 will not stand, and we will not return to the annals of history that were stained by Jim Crow laws. We are Americans, and We, the Liberty County Democratic Committee will fight against it!
W. Renea Camper, M.B.A., Chairwoman
Liberty County Democratic Committee