Hall: Liberals overreacting to Georgia election reform

As I received my edition of the April 9 News-Register, I was totally blindsided — although, truth to tell, not entirely surprised —  by the reprinting of the op-ed hatchet jobs perpetrated by Dr. Wim Laven and CNN.

Georgia’s recently enacted election reform law has sent the left into a feeding frenzy of spurious charges of “racism,” “suppression” and, their most recent favorite, “Jim Crow.”

Even President Biden joined in the knee-jerk reaction calling for boycotts. The most egregious act was committed by Major League Baseball, when it relocated its all-star game from Atlanta to Denver.

Of course, no one bothered to actually read the law. They just jumped on the bandwagon of boycott, boycott, boycott.

Let’s take a look at this so-called throwback to the Jim Crow-era. Let’s do the intellectually honest thing and see what the law actually does, not what Dr. Laven and CNN dishonestly charge.

Charge one: Voters standing in line to vote in person are prohibited from receiving water. Dr. Laven, ever the drama queen, is really s-o-o-o-o-o wrong here.

Fact: Voters are allowed to bring water and/or food while waiting in line to vote. If additional water is required, every polling station will have self-serve water available.

Pollworkers are allowed to distribute water to those requesting it. What is not allowed is the distribution of food, water or any other items by volunteers or other outside parties.

Charge two: The law suppresses voting by reducing hours, dropbox locations and absentee voting.

Fact: In-person voting hours are expanded from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone still in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot.

Dropboxes are being consolidated in Metropolitan Atlanta from 94 to 23, and their use limited, on a statewide basis, to the same daytime hours as in-person voting. But voters will have 17 days in which to drop off absentee ballots — a full two and a half weeks.

The law requires voters to file a formal request for an absentee ballot. It also tightens the period for doing so on both ends, but still allows ample time — more than two months.

Charge three: Voter ID is racist and suppresses minority voting.

Fact: A recent AP poll featuring more Democratic than Republican respondents found more than 70% of voters support an ID requirement. It enjoys majority support even among minority voters.

Studies show voter participation increases with an ID requirement. ID is only required for prospective voters registering the first time or voting absentee, not for registered voters participating in person.

Most importantly, to meet the requirement for casting an absentee ballot, a voter need provide only a driver’s license number, state ID number or last four digits of a Social Security number, replacing the previous signature verification process. If he fails to do so, his ballot will simply be labeled provisional pending subsequent verification.

What is blatantly racist is not tighter voting regulations, but the idea only whites are capable of obtaining IDs and meeting the requirements — that somehow minorities are incapable of producing identification or live in such isolated locations they cannot avail themselves of any contact with the outside world. 

Finally, what are the positives regarding Major League Baseball leaving Atlanta?

Baseball officials are moving the game from a city that is 53% Black to a city that is 76% white. And they are moving it to a state with a voter ID requirement of its own.

In the process, they imposed an unnecessary financial hardship on minority businesses relying upon the game to pump much needed financial stimulus into the local economy. As a result, the very people who initially clambered for boycotts, like Stacey Abrams, are now backpedaling in the face of a resounding backlash from the community.

And, by the way, Major League Baseball requires a picture ID to pick up tickets at the will-call window.

Bill Hall is a Navy veteran who bills himself as the oldest soccer coach in Oregon.


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