GASB 202 is problematic, but not for the reasons many think

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

It’s now April, and we are quickly approaching six months after the battle that was the 2020 election. And while the Biden administration and Democrats attempt to move forward with their agenda, Republicans across the country have made their displeasure clear. One of the groups of Republicans not happy with the result of the 2020 election is the Georgia Republicans. 

Who could blame them? Not only did Georgians vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, the first time since 1992, but they also elected two Democratic senators, one being the first Black person to win a statewide race in Georgia’s history. 

Even then, their reaction to punish the citizens of Georgia is shocking to some. In late March, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 202, an election law that gives the state government enormous authority over county election boards.

Just some of the things it does include 1) criminalizing giving food to those waiting in line at the polls, 2) creating an ID requirement to obtain an absentee ballot and 3) limiting the use of ballot drop boxes. 

Many of you have likely heard of number two, as it has been in the news quite a lot as progressive groups sue Georgia over the law. And it’s a valid argument, as many people in low-income areas can’t get a state ID, or their state ID is expired or suspended.

However, the state does give people who don’t have and can’t get a state or federal ID options. It’s called a voter ID, and it’s free of charge for registered voters. But Georgia sure doesn’t make it easy to get one. 

Here are ALL the requirements, as listed on the Georgia Secretary of States’ website:

  • A photo identity document or approved non-photo identity document that includes full legal name and date of birth
  • Documentation showing the voter’s date of birth
  • Evidence that the applicant is a registered voter
  • Documentation showing the applicant’s name and residential address

So, basically, a birth certificate, your voter card and a utility bill. It’s almost like a reduced version of the requirements for a Georgia driver’s license but free. Seems simple enough, right? 

Well, let me tell you a story. A few years ago, my grandfather moved down from New Jersey. And I was tasked with setting him up, making sure he had a driver’s license, making sure his Social Security address was changed and all that good stuff.

Well, in the process of doing this, we came to realize he lost his birth certificate. It seems like an easy fix, right? No, no, no. You see, my grandfather was born in 1938. As a Black man, he didn’t receive things like his birth certificate and Social Security card. 

In fact, the Social Security Administration didn’t even have his birthday correct. Luckily, he is a war veteran, so we could prove his identity through Veterans Affairs.

But many older Americans, especially those in low-income areas, don’t have someone who can find the answer for them. They don’t have someone that knows how to get another Social Security card and birth certificate. But frankly, voter IDs aren’t even the scariest part of the law.

Easily the scariest part of the elections law is the amount of unchecked power the state has given itself. Under the old law, the county handled election management decisions, meaning if your ballot was disqualified, someone in your county did that.

However, the now ultra-partisan State Election Board can effectively say that a county’s election board is underperforming and replace the entire board with the new law. Not chosen by the citizens but selected by the state. 

So what is now allowed to happen is say Republican officials can completely replace the Dekalb County election board. That gives them the power to “disqualify” just enough Democratic votes to turn an election red. The same thing could happen in Fulton County or Clayton County, all three of which are major Democratic voting centers. 

Oh, if that doesn’t concern you, wait for this. The state also allows the Republican-controlled general assembly to select the election board chair, giving the state the authority to choose three voting members of the board. 

This is a direct response to Brad Raffensperger, the former chair, standing up to Donald Trump when he asked him, point-blank, to commit election fraud. Josh McLaurin, a Democratic representative in the Georgia House of Representatives, explained to Vox, “By centralizing control over those processes, Republicans make their own manipulation easier while also removing a principal barrier to their lies.”

I’m not even going to go into the food aspect of the law. A 2018 study showed that voters in poor, minority areas had to wait in far longer lines than predominantly white, affluent areas. This is because Republicans have been closing voting booths at increasing rates, especially in poor, minority areas.

Republicans are committing widespread anti-democratic actions that are explicitly targeting poor people and minority people. And in 2022, we will see if their efforts are successful.

But we can not let that happen.

In 2020, we made history. We showed the world that we would not stand for bigotry in our government. We will fight back with every tool in our belt. We will protest, we will vote, and we will run for office. And no matter what Republicans try to do, we will fight back. 

No matter how hard they make it for us to vote, we will go out and vote. Even if they make it illegal to protest like they are attempting in Flordia, we will continue to exercise our rights as American citizens. 

We will not be silenced for doing what’s right.