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Everything is not peachy in Georgia

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Political discourse has been sweeping the nation in the wake of the state of Georgia passing Senate Bill 202. This Bill radically changed the voting laws of Georgia, causing a socio political fallout of epic proportions. 

The Bill changed all aspects of voting in Georgia, with changes spanning from absentee ballot rules, to in person voting regulations and many other facets of the election process. 

Cornerstones of the Bill include a law cutting down the absentee ballot request period to 11 weeks before an election and 11 days before, a law stating that ID will be required to request and cast a ballot, a law that cuts down on in-person voting time and a law that puts restrictions on the number of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Other key features of the bill include laws that ban anyone but poll workers from handing out water to those voting, ban the use of mobile voting buses, shorten the time for runoff elections and give state officials the ability to usurp the powers of county election boards, along with other things.

Naturally, the passing of this Bill has caused a heated debate in the country, with both parties deeply divided over the impacts of this law. Liberals believe that the new Bill suppresses votes from minorities and other Democratic voters.

“The majority of mail in ballots, especially in this past election, were by Democratic voters,” sophomore Kate Weisbrod said. “This was action to suppress Democratic votes, and to suppress the change that these Republican Senators don’t want to come in.”

On the other hand, Conservatives believe this Bill was passed to uphold the integrity and security of American elections.

“If you want a fair and safe democracy, then you should be in support of this Bill,” junior Brody Fravel said.

With the usually Republican Georgia being won by the Democrats in the 2020 election, many have asked the question of whether or not the outcome of the last election had anything to do with the passing of this Bill. This question has of course caused a heated discussion.

Liberals believe the outcome of the 2020 election indubitably led to the passing of the Bill, seeing it as a play by Republicans to gain back their power in the state.

“I think Republicans realized that they’re beatable in Georgia,” senior Zach Geiger said. “And in order to limit, or mitigate the impact of Democratic voters, and honestly usually minority individuals, is by making it harder to cast an early ballot, get an absentee ballot, mail an absentee ballot, and shorten the length to mail an absentee ballot.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Republicans believe that the Bill was passed in order to maintain safe and secure elections, and to curb voting irregularities in future elections.

“I do not think the outcome mattered. I think the issue deals more with how we came to that outcome,” government teacher Matthew Cribbs said. “Was every ‘legal vote’ counted, or were there many ‘illegal votes’ counted, as well, which could skew a precinct, city, district or state’s electoral outcome?  This is very important to consider when we talk about the integrity of our elections.”

With the question of why the Bill was passed being heavily disputed, with Democrats seeing it as voter suppression, while Republicans see it as a step towards voter security, there is also much dispute on who this Bill benefits.

Democrats believe that this Bill solely benefits the Republican, as it will allow them to gain back and maintain power.

“Those Republicans that want to keep the deep South Republican, they don’t like seeing Georgia blue, they don’t like seeing their values being changed,” Weisbrod said. “They’re the ones that benefit from it because they’re the ones that made it.”

Republicans rebutted this statement by saying that this Bill helps not just Georgians, but Americans as well, seeing as it provides them with a secure, trustworthy election.

“I think American voters benefit the most from knowing that who is elected is elected truthfully,” sophomore Connor Clevenger said.

As can be extrapolated from the evidence above, Democrats believe this Bill goes against the fundamental beliefs of America, and infringe on the basic rights of American voters. Liberals believe the laws instituted by this Bill show substantial signs of racism and discrimination in the regulations that they lay out.

Meanwhile, Republicans believe these new laws are completely justified, and in fact, introduce some long overdue precautions and provisions into the election system, such as requiring an ID to vote.

“They were long overdue. Most Americans support the idea of needing to show an ID to vote. Think of the myriad of daily activities that adults participate in that require an ID,” Cribbs said. “I don’t hear any calls of racism and discrimination when you have to show an ID to buy a beer, rent a car, or stay in a hotel room. I do not think that it is discriminatory at all to require an ID to vote.”

The issue of Senate Bill 202 has spiraled out of politics, and has impacted many other facets of life in Georgia, with many organizations pulling business out of Georgia, and speaking out against the Bill. Notably, the MLB has pulled the All-Star Game out of Georgia, and moved it to Denver, Colorado, in retaliation for the Bill.

While this should come as no surprise, this of course has caused a debate over whether or not it was right for these organizations to to pull their business from Georgia.

Liberals believe that the choices of these organizations were justified, seeing it as a form of protest against the Bill, and as a way to support their largely minority workforce.

“It comes down to the beliefs of those organizations, like the NBA, the MLB, where they’re predominantly minorities, you see the NBA with a large amount of African American people, and you see the MLB with a lot of Latinos,” sophomore Drew Strickland said. “There are white people in those organizations, but once you’re around those long enough, you start to realize ‘wait, these people are being discriminated against,’ so I feel like the organizations’ beliefs justify them pulling it out.”

Conservatives fired back at this with the claim that by pulling business out of the state, these organizations are harming the people of Georgia, seeing as these events are major sources of income for Georgia.

“Their actions are largely affecting not the government, but the people in the state, and in Atlanta specifically, say the MLB All-Star Game and the various other events that were pulled from the state are massive sources of income for not just the people or Georgia, but for their local infrastructures,” Fravel said. “I believe the move was wrong particularly because it denied valuable resources to the people.”

Following the passing of Senate Bill 202, other states have started to pass voting regulation laws, bringing up the discussion of the precedent that this Bill has set. People on both sides of the political spectrum believe that the Bill will prompt other states, especially Republican states, to pass similar legislation. Reasoning for the expansion of the Bill’s effect naturally varies across the board, with Democrats believing that more states are trying to suppress minority and Democratic voting, while Republicans believe that more states are trying to wash out voting irregularities.

“I read something that I believe it was that in 47 states, bills have been introduced that make it harder to vote, and these bills are starting to be passed,” Geiger said. “So what you’re seeing is this systematic voting restrictions being placed on individuals that have been marginalized from the voting process for generations, I don’t think it’s a matter of if this Bill is in a vacuum, because we’re seeing it happen all over the country.”

The point has been made that America is a Democratic society, and therefore it is up to the people to determine how this Bill is going to proceed.

“Ultimately, the people are the source of power in our country.  If Georgians do not like this law, they will elect a new set of representatives to change the law,” Cribbs said. “I believe that many people want our elections to be free from the myriad of “irregularities” that we saw during the 2020 Election, so I would expect many other states to follow Georgia’s lead and pass similar laws.”

No matter the long term outcomes of Senate Bill 202, there is no denying that the immediate effects of this Bill are massive. The passing of Senate Bill 202 has sent shockwaves through the nation, sparking a heated debate over voter discrimination and voter security. This Bill exacerbated the already tense debate over these subjects off of the heels of the 2020 election. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, there is no disputing the fact that this Bill could change voting in America for many years to come.

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Everything is not peachy in Georgia