BREAKING NEWS ALERT via Washington Post:
Georgia lawmakers pass sweeping voting bill that would curtail the use of drop boxes and allow challenges to voting eligibility
The measure, which also expands early voting hours and makes it a crime to give voters food and water while they wait in line, now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has not yet announced whether he will sign it.
That’s right: this law “makes it a crime to give voters food and water while they wait in line” to exercise their right to vote. It’s still early in the season, but it’s certainly an ambitious entry for this year’s pettiest voter suppression law!
Still, I can’t help but think perhaps these assholes haven’t quite thought this through. For instance, I wonder whether there’s a (pro-business!) loophole wherein it’s not a crime to sell voters food and water while they wait in line to vote. Or whether the state’s police forces are actually on board with assigning hundreds of officers to enforce this statute on election day, especially when relations between Georgia’s police forces and its minority citizens ain’t exactly copacetic.
I also wonder whether they remembered to grant to themselves and the police officers who enforce the law full immunity from criminal prosecution and civil suits, after some diabetic dies in line when their blood sugar crashes and no one can offer them anything sweet to bring it back up. Or when someone requires emergency medical attention due to severe dehydration.
Maybe I’m overthinking this and worrying for nothing. I mean, it’s not like people in Georgia ever have to wait in line for eleven hours to vote! (Oh wait.)
Now before you get to thinking this law is obviously racially motivated because – as we can all predict with a pretty high level of certainty – it will never be enforced in majority white voting districts, rest assured that this is not the case at all! This law, by constitutional standards, is “racially neutral.” You see, it simply cannot be enforced in majority white districts, because those districts don’t have lines. DUH! No racism to see here, people! Nope, none at all.
I wonder who will try to out-petty Georgia with their voter suppression laws next? I have a feeling it won’t be very long before we have another strong contender.
I am imagining future elections in Georgia, in which people dressed up like that Jesus character come to election lines to give out water, bread, and fishes, or perhaps water and goldfish crackers. Then I imagine them getting arrested, and the media demanding bail for John Doe #1, or for Jesus H Christ #1, #2, #3, etc.
But it’d be better to reform the filibuster and then pass HR 1 / S 1 to solve this.
Iris Vander Pluym says
Yes, it’s very “Christian” of them, innit? WWJD? Well he certainly wouldn’t provide food and water to those in desperate need of it! Although I’m pretty sure he was big on tossing the water in favor of wine…
I just thought of something that I’ll bet Stacy Abrams could organize: handing out sandwiches and water bottles before folks get in line.
Andreas Avester says
That’s crazy. I have never waited in line for more than 5 minutes in a polling station. Here nobody gives voters food or water either, but that would be unnecessary anyway.
Matthew Currie says
A Mississippi senator has come out supporting the law because, she says, Sunday voting would offend God, citing the OT commandment. Of course you can cherry pick the Bible, which (for those who believe that sort of stuff) reports in a couple of different gospels, Jesus himself countering exactly that complaint raised against him by the Pharisees (although their sabbath was not, of course, on Sunday and still is not), and pointing out that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, and the Son of man is lord of the sabbath! So one can say with relative biblical impunity that the ban on Sunday voting is the work of Pharisaical enemies of Jesus Christ. Or, of course, you could say it’s just stupidity by people who don’t understand the Constitution, but that doesn’t seem to fly so well any more,
I live in a country where registering to vote and attending a polling place on election day are both compulsory (punishable by a small fine if you do not give a reasonable excuse). But that then puts an obligation on government to ensure that they do not force me to break the law.
Registration is simple. ID requirements at the polling station are simple (I give my name and address and state that I have not voted before in the election). Polling stations are many and easy to access in towns and cities (for both federal and state elections, there are two in easy walking distance of my suburban home). Polling stations are set up in hospitals, and polling officials take ballot papers and ballot boxes to anyone in the hospital who can’t make it to the polling station (and who is able to vote). Polling stations are also set up in prisons (prisoners serving a sentence of less than 3 years are permitted to vote in federal elections). Mobile polling stations tour remote parts of the country to ensure that people there can vote.
There’s even a section of the Federal Electoral Act to provide for residents at Antarctic research stations to be able vote (though they aren’t obliged to vote).
Pre-poll voting (voting in person before the election day), absentee voting (voting at a polling station not in your own electorate) and postal voteing (sending in your ballot papers by mail) are regarded as unexceptional and uncontroversial and the rules are the same across all states in a federal election.
The federal government controls its own electoral law, and state laws can’t override it. There is an independent statutory authority that runs elections, oversees the election itself (including overseeing the behaviour of party representatives during the voting and the count), and which draws up electoral boundaries. It’s generally held in high esteem.
Elections, federal, state and local government, are held on Saturdays, so that it’s not a working day for many electors, but an employee must be allowed 2 hours to cast their vote if they are working on a federal election day.
Irregularities in the conduct of federal elections can be referred to the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns.
Recounts are automatic if the count is closer than a certain amount, and the rule is the same over all states in a federal election, but the court can order a recount, or even a new election for the affected area, as happened in the Senate election in one state at the last federal election, after two ballot boxes were lost in transport!
The form of the ballot paper is uniform across all states in federal elections (in a federal election, normally only seats in the two chambers of Federal Parliament are being voted on, though sometimes federal referendums are voted on at the same time).
I’ve rarely had to wait more than a few minutes, or perhaps a few tens of minutes, to vote. Many polling stations are in school halls, and there the school P&C (PTA for US readers) often runs a fund-raising hot snacks stall where you can buy food and drink if you want. The last election I voted in was held under COVID social distancing restrictions, but the queues seemed to be (allowing for the extra spacing) no longer than normal, and the P&C stall was still there (though a few weeks prior to that it might not have been).
Andreas, almost nobody who is white in America has to wait for more than five minutes to vote. It’s only certain voting districts that somehow never have enough machines, and end up with lines stretching around the block. I leave it to your imagination to guess what type of people live in those districts.
Also, I read that another provision of this law is that ballot counters are no longer allowed to take breaks. Are they trying to piss of everybody?
Iris Vander Pluym says
@prl: It sounds like you live in a democracy! I’ve heard so much about those, but I can’t say I’m familiar myself.
See, I live in a kleptocracy. Here, the ruling class steals land from the public (for drilling and pipelines and mining and such) and cash from working taxpayers, while paying no taxes themselves. Well, I heard one paid $730 once, so there’s that. They pretty much steal anything they want (including entire countries!), commit war crimes and pollute the earth without penalty, all they do it all with the help of their able servants in both parties and in all three branches of government. Now, they’re just getting more brazen about stealing elections. And why shouldn’t they? It’s not like the current Supreme Court will stop them. Conservatives HATE democracy. And unfortunately we’re infested with them.
While we are, I think, able to conduct federal elections a bit better than the US, there are lots of problems with the way that Australia is governed. I’m not sure our electoral processes necessarily gives us better politicians, or makes the very wealthy or large corporations pay their fair share of tax.
There even fewer protections for the selection of Australian High Court judges than there are for the US Supreme Court: the Prime Minister simply recommends a candidate to the Governor General, and his (or her) appointment of that candidate is more-or-less automatic. But the choices still seem to have less blatant politics associated with them than US Supreme Court appointments.
When election day comes in Georgia, we should all go down there and start handing out water and food. We should do it in teams of fifty, and as soon as the cops drag, (and I mean make them drag), us away, another team of 50 steps up, and so on. Their jails will be full, and the voters will be watered and fed. Then we all refuse bail and make them feed and house us until our trials. I wonder how long these laws will stand after that?
No surprises there, it aint known as Georgastan for no reason.
publicola @10: An interesting scheme. However, what makes you think that the jailed activists will be fed and housed? Suspect that any governing body capable of enacting a shitshow law like the one we’re discussing, is quite capable of shuffling people who violate said law off into glorified hellholes with inadequate… well… inadequate everything, really.