9 minutes | Mar 30, 2021

New Georgia Voting Law: Voting Rights, Voting Responsibilities (EP.318)

Introduction

If your emphasis is on voting rights, to the virtual exclusion of any attendant responsibilities, then you would likely agree that the new Georgia voting law represents an unfair restriction of those rights. I am not in that camp.

That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.

Continuing

Much of today’s conversation, in the media, on social media and in person, is taken up with rights, e.g., the right to healthcare, the right to housing, etc. Voting rights belong in this growing list. The only rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those unalienable rights, by definition, have no corresponding responsibilities, save, perhaps, for staying out of jail to maintain one’s liberty.

Today’s Key Point: When there are any responsibilities, hurdles to clear, prior to voting, no matter how obvious and needed they may be, you can be guaranteed that there will be cries of “Voter suppression” from the predictable voices and groups. It is equally predictable that the more a person must undertake prior to voting, the less likely that voter will be liberal or progressive. Both parties know this. The key, as is often the case, comes down to intent: Is the intent in writing or enforcing a voting law to fairly balance both ensuring the integrity of the vote while still allowing responsible citizens to vote? Are the Democrats loosening up the voting laws past any kind of reasonable security in their effort to get more votes? While stressing that anyone opposed is suppressing the vote, especially black votes? On the other hand, are the Republicans hiding behind securing the integrity of the vote to in fact suppress votes?

Let’s start our analysis with the most often quoted criticism from President Biden on the new Georgia voting bill. “If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they pass a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote…You don’t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can’t provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break.”

Biden is not the only critic to slam the Georgia provision that prevents third parties from giving gifts, including “food and drink” to those standing in line at the polls. But the point is to prevent activists from showing up in union shirts—or MAGA hats, passing out drinks and snacks, along with a wink-wink and the mention of a candidate or two.

Fact check. People can bring their own food and drink, or order it for delivery in line. As for the suddenly thirsty, the new law specifically allows poll workers to provide “self-service water from an unattended receptacle.” Also, the legislation recognizes that it’s a failure if voters stand in line long enough to get parched. That’s why it says wait times at large precincts must be measured three times throughout Election Day. If the line hits an hour, changes are required before the next election.

Fact check: Biden was terribly wrong on an issue that he stressed. Why do you suppose he did that?

The President also said at his news conference that the voting bills percolating in GOP state Legislatures are “un-American,” “sick,” “pernicious,” and worse: “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. ”

More fact checking: The new law leaves in place Sunday voting, noting that black churches have a “souls to polls” tradition after services. It expanded early voting to three weeks. It also leaves in place no-excuses absentee voting. Every eligible Georgia voter will continue to be allowed to request a mail ballot for the sake of simple convenience—or for no reason at all. It substitutes a state ID number match for handwriting checking–eliminating the subjective judgements on the part of poll workers who are not handwriting experts. Anyone without an ID can get one for free. Ballot drop boxes are now a permanent part of the Georgia voting process. 

Fact Check: Biden intentionally misrepresented the new Georgia law. How much fact checking did we hear from the mainstream media?

Rights come with equal or greater responsibilities. What are the responsibilities, if any, that come with the right to vote? My position is clear. It takes an average of about 30 minutes a year to:

  1. Keep your voter information current.
  2. Have a valid photo ID (you will need that anyway).
  3. Go vote, or
  4. Vote the mail-in ballot sent to your correct address, and addressed to you as a registered, active voter.

If someone is not willing to do that, they should not be allowed to vote. Do you agree? Tell me and others listening and reading why or why not.

We’ll close with a fun story from US News and World Report.

“It’s election day in Virginia, an event that back in George Washington’s day would have had the ex-president and his supporters seeing double. The reason: Voting day was a reason to binge in Colonial times, and the candidate who served up the most hooch often won.

Washington biographer Dennis Pogue, vice president of preservation at Washington’s home of Mount Vernon, reveals that the father of the nation lost his first campaign in 1755 to the House of Burgesses largely because he didn’t put on an alcohol-laden circus at the polls. That year, Washington got 40 votes. The winner, who plied voters with beer, whiskey, rum punch, and wine, got 271 votes.

A quick learner, Washington won three years later with the help of alcohol. ‘What do you know, he was successful and got 331 votes,’ says Pogue, author of the new book Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry.”

Speaking of quotes, sections of this episode were taken from a recent WSJ editorial; I often find that others say things so well that any change is a detraction.

Did today’s episode stir up any new thoughts for you? If so, what might you be doing differently now

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14

Contact

As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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