Georgia’s voter suppression law is already having a ‘disproportionate impact’ on 'Democratic-leaning constituencies’: report
With centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona having reiterated her opposition to creating a filibuster exception for voting rights, the chances of a voting rights bill being passed in the U.S. Senate and making it to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature aren’t looking good. Republicans, meanwhile, continue to deny that the voter suppression bills they have been passing in state legislatures all over the U.S. are designed to make voting more difficult. But according to Mother Jones reporters Ryan Little and Ari Berman, a voter suppression law that went into effect in Georgia in 2021 is already having a negative impact.
“A new data analysis by Mother Jones shows that the number of voters disenfranchised by rejected mail ballot applications skyrocketed after the GOP-controlled legislature passed sweeping new restrictions on mail voting last year,” Little and Berman report in an article published by Mother Jones on January 28. “The law enacted in March 2021 shortened the time people have to request and return mail ballots, prohibited election officials from sending such applications to all voters, added new ID requirements, and dramatically curtailed the use of ballot drop boxes, among other changes.”
The reporters add, “During municipal elections in November, Georgia voters were 45 times more likely to have their mail ballot applications rejected — and ultimately not vote as a result — than in 2020. If that same rejection rate were extrapolated to the 2020 race, more than 38,000 votes would not have been cast in a presidential contest decided by just over 11,000 votes.”
These rejections of mail ballot applications, according to Little and Berman, are “having a disproportionate impact on Democratic-leaning constituencies” in Georgia.
“Black voters, who make up about a third of the electorate in Georgia, accounted for half of all late ballot application rejections, according to the voting rights group Fair Fight Action,” the journalists report. “Voters 18 to 29 made up just 2.76% of mail voters in 2021, but they constituted 15% of late ballot application rejections. Overall, four times as many Democratic voters requested mail ballots compared to Republicans, so an increase in rejections will particularly harm their party.”
According to Little and Berman, “Of 34,810 voters who requested a mail ballot in 2021, 1038 were ultimately rejected. Of those rejections, only one in four went on to cast a ballot in person. The number of people who did not vote because their applications were rejected — some tried more than once — constituted 2.19% of total mail voters, a relatively small figure.”
Voter suppression is also problematic in Texas, a light red state where Democrats have been making inroads in recent years.
“Georgia is not the only state where Republicans have made it more difficult to vote by mail and voters are experiencing problems as a result,” Little and Berman report. “In Texas, after the legislature passed a confusing new voter-ID requirement for mail voting, the number of rejected ballot applications has increased by 700% in large urban areas like Houston’s Harris County ahead of the March primary.”
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