For a democracy to work, everyone’s voice has to be heard. And the easier it is to vote, the more people vote. Makes sense, right?
But right now, in Georgia and other Republican-led states, lawmakers are intentionally making it more difficult to vote, especially if you’re Black, Brown, young or don’t make very much money. It’s almost as if these extremist politicians might not be big fans of democracy…
Here are 5 ways that Georgia has made it harder for certain people to vote. Keep reading to find out what you can do to make sure your voice is heard!
1. Reduced the number of voting drop boxes
Georgia experienced a huge voter turnout in 2020, especially among young people and people of color, and new voter drop boxes deployed throughout the state contributed to the surge. That’s something to celebrate, right? Not for Georgia Republicans, who passed legislation that drastically reduces the number of drop boxes (as well as the hours they can be accessed) in the state. This will create serious problems in Georgia’s most populous counties—which also have the highest percentage of Black voters (keep in mind that people of color make up an ever-larger share of Georgia’s overall population). Black voters have been credited with turning Georgia blue in 2020, so the removal of drop boxes from predominantly Black areas isn’t a coincidence.
2. Limited mail-in voting and instituted new voter ID requirements
Black voters vote by mail at a higher rate than any other voters in Georgia, so it is no accident that the state’s recent anti-voting efforts included limiting the amount of time voters have to request absentee ballots and tightening the identification requirements for casting a vote via mail. Black voters and voters with low incomes are less likely to have the kind of ID the state now requires.
3. Changed state law to allow for a partisan takeover of local election boards
Local boards that oversee voter registration and election certification in Georgia used to be independent, but a new law allows them to be taken over by partisan appointees. That has actually already happened in a number of counties, where new Republican-controlled boards then canceled Sunday voting—which disproportionately impacts Black people, who have traditionally turned out to vote in big numbers on Sundays. Additionally, now that the certification of election results is in the hands of partisan politicians, the very concept of a free and fair election in Georgia is under threat.
4. Purged voters from voting lists
Over the last few years, Republican politicians in Georgia have purged hundreds of thousands of voters from state voting lists. A massive purge before the 2018 gubernatorial election affected the outcome of that race, and another purge, of about 100,000 voters, could have a similar partisan impact in the upcoming midterm election. (Additional purges are underway right now—in potential violation of federal law, because they are taking place within 90 days of the election.) If you’re in Georgia, or anywhere else in the US, you can find out if you’re registered here!
5. Criminalized handing out food and water to voters
It’s often quite hot in Georgia, even in November. So to ban people from handing out food and water to voters waiting in one of Georgia’s notoriously long lines on Election Day seems almost unimaginably cruel. And yet, that’s what a recent law has done: You can be arrested, fined, and put in jail for handing out food and water—even if the person in line is a friend or family member! By the way, research has shown that Black people and people in low-income communities are far more likely than anybody else to have to wait in long lines to vote—due to the unequal access to polling locations in predominantly Black neighborhoods..
OK, but… Why?
Why did Georgia take all these steps, and more, to make it harder to vote? Because… they don’t want you to vote! Especially if you’re Black or Brown, or young, or elderly, or poor. Republican officials know that the more people who cast a ballot, the less likely Republicans are to win elections. Simply put, they don’t want to lose, so rather than leave it up to voters to freely choose their elected leaders, Republicans are changing the rules of elections so that they can choose their voters.
Your vote is important. Your vote matters. It’s your power. It’s your voice. And that’s why they’re trying to take it away.
What We’re Doing
In the runup to the midterm elections, we’re working with Black Voters Matter (BVM) to provide a set of online tools to ensure that Georgians have all the information they need to vote their power. They can check their registration status, register to vote, and then make a plan to vote. BVM is a Georgia-based organization dedicated to building power in Black and other marginalized communities
Georgia’s far-right politicians may be doing everything they can to make it harder to vote on Election Day, and easier to overturn any results they don’t like afterward, but we have the power to stop them in their tracks. When we are all voters, extremist candidates who want to strip away our rights lose.