Georgia’s new election law SB 202, which many experts decried as an attack on the fundamental fairness of the state’s elections, was compared to Jim Crow by many leading Democrats. Now some observers are pushing back, arguing the bill falls well short of a democratic apocalyptic.
In the New York Times, Nate Cohn concluded that “the law’s voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances.” Slate’s Will Saletan notes that some provisions really are troubling, but that the bill also contains good provisions and that critics have “overhyped” their concerns. Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, writes that “the idea this is an epic war on voting rights is simply absurd.”
On one level, it’s a fair topic of conversation, and the critics make some good points. Research on the effect of voter ID requirements often does find small or no effect on turnout; President Joe Biden’s description of the bill as “Jim Crow on steroids” certainly overstates the case.
But at the same time, some of the policy conversation about the Georgia bill is deeply frustrating. The close reading often takes place in a vacuum, disconnected from the context that gave rise to the law in the first place.
The fundamental truth about SB 202 is this: Its very existence is predicated on a lie. The bill’s passage was motivated by unfounded claims of fraud in the Georgia presidential elections — lies that Donald Trump spread and continues to spread, with the help of both state and national Republicans. [Continue reading…]