The Fact-Free Assault on GA-SB 202

5 min readApr 7, 2021

By: Gabriel Katz, Blog Contributor

On March 25th, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a new voting law, SB 202, into law. Given many Republicans’ response to President Trump’s loss in the November election, it is understandable that many Americans are skeptical of Georgia Republicans’ motives. Indeed, some early reporting about this bill contained worrying reports, such as some proposals aiming to stop early voting on Sundays — an effort that would likely stop Black churchgoers from voting during “Souls to the Polls” events. However, the final bill signed by Governor Brian Kemp contained, for the most part, quite reasonable reforms to Georgia’s voting laws.

As Georgia Public Radio says, “one of the biggest changes in SB 202 would expand early voting access for most counties.” For comparison’s sake, Georgia’s 17 days of early voting would be similar to the national average of 19 and exceed New York’s 9 days and Colorado’s 15 days of mail-in early voting.

Additionally, to improve transparency regarding elections, SB 202 also contains provisions that allow for the faster counting of absentee ballots and require that “local officials […] post and report the total number of ballots cast on election day, during early voting, via absentee voting and provisional ballots, all by 10:00 p.m. on election night.” This was a bipartisan reform that many Democrats supported in the wake of Georgia’s slow reporting of election results in both the 2020 Presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoffs.

Finally, to improve election security, SB 202 instituted several changes. First, SB 202 required various forms of voter ID (or the last four digits of your Social Security Number for absentee voting) for both in-person and absentee voting, a change supported by the vast majority of Americans, including 56% of Democrats. Furthermore, according to a 2019 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, “strict ID laws have no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup.” For comparison’s sake, there are currently voter ID laws of some kind in 36 states, including Democratic strongholds such as Hawaii, Washington, President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware, and Colorado.

Second, as National Review’s Rich Lowry writes, SB 202 “narrows the window for requesting absentee ballots,” still allowing voters to “request a ballot as early as eleven weeks prior to an election or as late as eleven days prior.” To accommodate voters seeking to avoid exposure to Covid-19, Georgia allowed for ballots to be left off at ballot drop boxes, unlike any election in Georgia prior to 2020. SB 202 keeps those ballot drop boxes while “limiting their location to early voting sites.” SB 202 “requires all 159 counties to have at least one drop box,” capping the number of boxes at “one per 100,000 active voters or one for every early voting site (whichever is smaller).”

Maybe the most discussed element of SB 202 is a portion of it that bars activists and other political organizations from handing out water and food to voters. Georgia Public Radio writes that the bill “prohibit[s] anyone except poll workers from handing out water to voters in line, and outlaw passing out food and water to voters within 150 feet of the building that serves as a poll, inside a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line” (emphasis added). As Dan McLaughlin notes, “many other states have electioneering bans that prevent people from giving gifts to voters, approaching voters in line or in the process of voting, or wearing or displaying political messages around the polling place,” including Minnesota, New York, Colorado, and Delaware.

Despite this, President Joe Biden has dubbed SB 202 as “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” while falsely claiming that the bill “ends voting hours early.” Given the facts presented above, if Georgia is guilty of “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” then New York, Colorado, and many other states must be too. Instead, the President and his party are using the suffering that Black Americans endured under Jim Crow for political purposes rather than engaging with the facts of SB 202. With this sort of rhetorical freelancing, it leaves one thinking: so much for unity.

Regardless of your views of the particular provisions of SB 202 (and I have some disagreements with SB 202), everyone should disapprove of Democrats and corporate America’s panicked and irrational overreaction to a standard elections reform bill. Democrats and corporate America’s willingness to use mountains of disinformation and lies to stigmatize the 44% of Americans that are Republican or Republican-leaning should concern everyone, including readers who disagree with my view of the legislation.

In response to the furor surrounding SB 202, Delta Airlines backtracked on their initial statement praising SB 202, with their CEO Ed Bastian releasing a strongly critical statement of SB 202, but failed to cite specifics. Then Coca-Cola followed suit, once again releasing a statement that contained no specifics. Finally, Major League Baseball decided to move its annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of SB 202, with Commissioner Rob Manfred once again failing to provide specifics, nevermind the fact that the MLB has moved the All-Star Game to Colorado, which has voting laws that are virtually identical to those in Georgia, and is headquartered in New York — a state that offers dramatically less ballot access than Georgia.

This fake and performative outrage has ended up financially harming hundreds of Georgians already reeling from the pandemic who are reliant on the entertainment industry for income, costing the city of Atlanta an estimated $100 million dollars. Politics should exist to serve and improve the lives of ordinary Americans, not to provide political addicts and talking heads on TV with new material for our endless cycle of political outrage. In this case, real people reliant on the entertainment industry — who were already hurting from the pandemic’s effects on live entertainment — lost sources of income because of Democrats’ lies and disinformation and the MLB’s lack of will. There is no doubt that we have serious issues to face in this country, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, but voters should remember where the priorities of those involved are: not on unity or “building back better,” but on relentless political wokeness that does nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.




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