Democrats have been pressuring their fellow centrist senators, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kristen Sinema of Arizona, to destroy the filibuster and allow the passing of a federal overhaul of the nation’s elections. In a speech on Tuesday, President Biden said that eliminating the filibuster to let this bill get through the Senate was a necessary step to defend democracy against the slew of “voter suppression” laws being passed by Republican states. Democrats have railed against laws in states like Georgia, arguing them to be thinly-veiled attempts to prohibit minority voters to cast their ballots.
However, while Democrats have compared many of these laws as a repetition to arguably the worst era of American history, as Biden has called them a “Jim Crow 2.0”, the reality is that there is far less oversight and criticism over Democratic states that have the same rules in their books.
Georgia ID requirements are not voter supression
When Georgia passed its controversial electoral law back in 2021, the Democratic Party lambasted the law as obvious voter suppression. President Biden repeatedly lied and said the law would restrict voting hours, while failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrahams made a similar misleading argument. The New York Times criticized the bill, saying it would require strict new ID requirements (which studies show do not have a significant effect in suppressing the vote) for absentee ballots and that voters would now have less time to require one.
First, while it is true that Georgia requires IDs to vote, it also gives voters a long list of acceptable ID forms to vote in-person (driver’s license, valid U.S. passport, military photo ID, etc.) and the law only requires citizens to give their ID number when submitting an absentee ballot, allowing citizens to submit a photocopy of their valid ID if they do not have an ID number.
Furthermore, Georgia also provides its citizens with the option of receiving a free Voter ID Card for those who do not have any valid form of ID. In fact, after the controversial electoral law was passed last year, the number of Georgians without valid state IDs has reduced (less than 2% of registered voters do not have a valid ID), hardly the policies of a state that is attempting to recreate the oppressive Jim Crow system that prevented millions of Americans to vote before the Civil Rights movement.
Georgia allows more time and ways to vote than Delaware or Connecticut
Moreover, if asking for new requirements to access an absentee ballot are clear shows of voter suppression, then Connecticut and Delaware are the dreamlands of George Wallace as neither state have no-excuse absentee voting in their books (unlike Georgia). To make matters worse for both states, while Georgia was criticized for reducing the number of ballot drop boxes in their new bill, neither Delaware nor Connecticut law allow ballot drop boxes at all.
Another front where Georgia is leading Delaware, Connecticut, and even New York in the field of voter empowerment is on Automatic voter registration. The Peach state, which was subjected to a boycott over its new voting law, has established an automatic voter registration system in 2016, allowing its citizens to be registered to vote when they filed a license application. Connecticut followed Georgia’s lead in 2018, Delaware only approved an automatic voter registration system in 2021 (which will be effective in 2023), and New York has no automatic voter registration system in place.
Another field where Georgia makes it easier to vote than Delaware, Connecticut, or other Democratic states is early voting. While Georgia allows all eligible voters to cast their ballots in person for nineteen days before the election, Connecticut does not even have the option of early voting in their state law, Delaware only recently passed a law that would make it possible to vote early, but even that new period would be far shorter (9 days) than Georgia’s provision.
Delaware and Connecticut are not the only places that have a shorter early-voting period than Georgia. New Jersey (9 days), Nevada (14 days), New Mexico (14 days), New York (9 days), Washington D.C (5 days), Massachusetts (7 days), and Maryland (7 days) all give less time for voters to cast their ballots before election day than Georgia.
If President Biden considers that asking for ID requirements (and then giving free IDs to vote) to cast an absentee ballot, having 17 days of early voting, and having a successful automatic voter registration program is comparable to Jim Crow, then Congress should immediately act upon the clear democratic emergency that is happening in some deep blue states across the country.