Republicans Pursue Voting Limitation Laws

Member of Court arrested after knocking on door.

AP

State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Cannon was arrested by Capitol police after she attempted to knock on the door of the Gov. Brian Kemp office during his remarks after he signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

On March 25th, 2021 the Georgia Republican state legislatures passed voting restriction laws into place. This issue does not stop at Georgia. Forty-three states, including our own state of Colorado and neighboring Arizona, have bills to restrict voting waiting to be passed. These laws include limiting mail-in voting, limiting drop boxes, no food or water in voting lines, and other measures to make voting more difficult. These drastic changes will affect voter turnout and suppress minority votes.

On March 2, 2021, the Supreme Court is preparing to rule on two election restrictions in Arizona, which would make it harder to challenge different types of limits on voting around the nation. This Supreme Court case is the most important voting rights case in nearly a decade. 

According to the New York Times, “The immediate question for the justices was whether two Arizona measures ran afoul of the 1965 law [Out lawing discrimination against minority voting, specifically in Southern States after the Civil War]. One of the measures requires election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct. The other makes it a crime for campaign workers, community activists and most other people to collect ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice critics call ‘ballot harvesting.’” Seven members of the court agreed on these restrictions.

The Biden Administration agreed that these new restrictions were reasonable and lawful. The administration, however, also disavowed the Trump administration’s position: “that the relevant section of the Voting Rights Act should not be widely used to keep states from enacting more restrictive voting procedures.”

Many Democrats and civil rights groups are claiming that Republicans are attempting to suppress votes and deny minorities representation at the poll.

“Though the Voting Rights Act seeks to protect minority voting rights, as a practical matter, litigation under it tends to proceed on partisan lines.

Colorado can be seen as the “Gold Standard” of voting, with access voting policies including vote by mail. Colorado is a state that sees consecutive growth in voter turnout, safe elections that have had results verified by Secretary of State from both political parties.

 Despite Colorado’s outstanding voting laws, they, like other states, are under attack by Republican legislatures. In Colorado, Senator Lundeen (R) proposed a bill that would end the state’s mail-in voting policy, a way of voting many Coloradans rely on, particularly in rural areas. Senator Lundeen stated to the Denver Post “start a conversation,” and that he hoped to “improve confidence” in our voting system (Denver Post)

The bill makes many Coloradans question why we should change a voting system that already works so well. On March 1st of 2021, the bill went up to vote in the Colorado legislation, being turned down with a 4-1 vote. The unsuccess of this bill will not be the end of voter suppression in Colorado and is only 1 of 7 proposed in Colorado 

Despite the failed attempt in Colorado, Georgia is in an era of what Stacy Abrams calls “Jim Crow Laws 2.0” (Abrams).

Georgia, typically a red state, saw change in the 2020 election, as they voted for both Democratic candidates in executive and the legislative branch. The fear of election fraud was prominent in this state with three recounts, including one by hand. The election results were verified by the state’s Republican Secretary of State who faced backlash from many, including former President Trump who in a recorded phone call pleaded for the state to “find” 11.7k ballots for his ticket.

After all of this happened, Georgia then started changing their voting laws. The Republicans that propped the changes in voting laws say these laws are making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The first law that was changed was, “No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector.” 

This would make it illegal for water or food to be provided to voters waiting in line to vote. Along with this law, they changed the number of drop boxes in the state from 33 to 9, this decrease in drop boxes will only make lines longer for voting, and limit the access that citizens have to vote. Also, now Georgia has the power to overturn votes in counties if fraud is suspected. Making people question whether or not their vote really counts if the state can just overturn their vote.

Finally, Georgia has passed a law requiring a photocopy of your id to be mailed in with your absentee ballot. Many African Americans can not afford cars and do not drive, so they do not have a driver’s license, the standard photo ID required for prof. “This bill seeks to make voting by mail harder,” said Minority Leader Bob Trammell. All of these new changes to voting in Georgia are only making voters discouraged to vote, and making citizens question whether or not the state values their vote. And of course, for the minority groups who want to vote, won’t be able to get their ballots in.