Election Integrity Act expands voter access
Now that the public’s interest has moved on to the next shiny object, this might be a good time to reference some of the misrepresentations of Georgia’s Election Integrity Act published in this newspaper in an op-ed on April 4, 2021. A comparison to “Jim Crow” voter laws is absurd.
One glaring false statement was that the secretary of state was stripped of his designation as chair of the State Elections Board so “The legislature would then have the power to choose their own chair of the board” as a “measure to politicize an election.” The exact opposite is true.
The secretary of state is now an elected partisan. In order to be nominated to fill the chairperson position under the new law, the nominee must be nonpartisan. The nominee may not have been a partisan candidate for office, participated in a political party organization, or campaigned or contributed to a partisan candidate for office for two years prior to nomination. These stipulations also hold true during the two-year tenure.
The op-ed also stated “It allows state takeover of local elections.” That statement should have been followed by an explanation. Changes in the new law get rid of long lines and waits at the polls, but some election superintendents may be unable or unwilling to get county or municipal elections in order. After petitioning the Secretary of State for relief, the petition then goes to the State Election Board which must perform an investigation that concludes that the election superintendent has at least three violations of voting regulations in the last two general election cycles. In general, the superintendent has demonstrated gross negligence in administration of the elections. The fired superintendent may appeal, and if the firing is reversed, lawyer and litigation fees may be reimbursed.
It is grossly unfair to insinuate that “low-income and voters of color” cannot figure out how to register and vote or request an absentee ballot. All it takes is a driver’s license number — even an expired one — or a free state voter ID; also, the last four digits of your Social Security number is acceptable. Early voting time on weekends is extended.
Every provision in Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021 is designed to secure and expand voter access to elections. It just makes it harder for anyone from any party to cheat.
Ina Fay Manly