Georgia's new voting regulations cause public outcry

By ANTHONY MIRAGLIOTTA
On April 12, 2021

Photo courtesy of Arnaud Jaegers, Unsplash

The Georgia State Legislature passed a bill that would mandate voter IDs and expand voter rights in the state. This somehow caused controversy that made major companies leave Georgia and take their business elsewhere. 

Major League Baseball (MLB), Coca-Cola and Delta threatened to stop doing business in Georgia. The MLB even pulled their All-Star game from Atlanta and moved it to Denver, even though Colorado has similar voting and voter ID laws that Georgia implemented. Atlanta was planning on honoring the late Hank Aaron at the game, who is an icon in the Braves franchise.

If MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is advocating for voting rights, he could have kept the game in Georgia. 

One of the biggest parts of the bill includes it being a misdemeanor to give out food and water to voters waiting in line. Universally, poll workers are not allowed to give out food or water to any voter waiting in line. Therefore, a poll worker giving out bottled water with a candidate sticker on it is considered electioneering, which is illegal. Poll workers are supposed to be non-partisan and not show their political leanings by handing out bottles of water that state the name of any political candiate.

President Joe Biden falsely claimed that the legislation stated that polling locations would close at 5 p.m. Regarding the polling locations closing at 5 p.m., the bill does not explicitly state when polling locations would close. Nationwide, all polling locations close at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, Biden’s home state of Delaware does not have early voting. The Georgia voting law allows up to 17 days to vote early. Biden could have advocated for this during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. 

Days after this all occurred, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (with Stacey Abrams on his side) signed a bill that “expanded voting rights.” However, the bill Murphy signed only allowed nine days of early voting compared to 17 days in Georgia. If Murphy really cared about voting rights, he would have expanded early voting to the same length or longer than Georgia.

Bernice King, the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, said in a tweet that the people who are calling for the boycott should stop because it would hurt middle class workers and “increase the harm of racism and classism.” I agree with King here because many of the businesses that boycotting the Georgia law serve the middle class and the middle rely on these industries every day. 

Everyone should have the right to vote. All 50 states should pass similar legislation like Georgia as a model. Congress should then act and make federal laws regarding voter IDs to secure future elections.

 
amiragli@ramapo.edu

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