North Carolina can thank the state of Georgia for lifting a bit of shame off Tar Heels’ backs. Peach-state legislators have surpassed their N.C. brethren as the most vicious opponents of modern-day democracy in the union that both states rebelled against in what these goons would still call the “War of Northern Aggression.” But Georgia’s Republican politicians are merely manifesting the long-term reflex of white Southern elites to respond brutally when their power structure is threatened.
The symmetry between North Carolina’s “monster voting law” and Georgia Republicans’ latest gambit is remarkable. In both cases, the state in question had transitioned from deep-red to purple on the strength of African American turnout. White Republicans wouldn’t have it, and at their first opportunity, unshackled from judicial accountability by the United States Supreme Court’s appalling decision in Shelby County v. Holder, GOP legislators pushed bills meant to curtail meaningful multiracial participation in self-government.
Georgia’s bill is, if anything, more brutish than the Monster Voting Law. In retaliation against a constitutional officer for upholding the U.S. constitution, the so-called “Election Integrity Act” removes the Georgia secretary of state from the administration of elections. In his place will be an administrator/enforcer appointed directly by Georgia’s gerrymandered, Republican legislature. The bill also allows the state Board of Elections (dominated naturally by Republicans) to intercede and take over “underperforming” local election boards, imposing Republican voter suppression on Democratic counties.
This bill contains much more, which I will quote at length from Mother Jones‘s Ari Berman:
“The earlier provisions that remain in the bill would also restrict voting access in Georgia: severely limiting mail ballot drop boxes, adding new voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots, rejecting ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct, and making it a crime to give voters food or water while they’re waiting to vote. The bill would also make it more difficult for counties to run elections by prohibiting them from accepting donations from nonprofit groups, which were used in 2020 to add more voting sites and drop boxes, and ban innovations like mobile voting buses that made voting more convenient. And it would dramatically reduce the time for runoff elections after the victories of Ossoff and Warnock, cutting them from nine weeks to four weeks.”
Suffice it to say that Georgia has enacted the nastiest assault on representative democracy since Jim Crow. And their maneuver has echoes of the maelstrom that created Jim Crow in the first place. Whites, aghast at former slaves participating in democracy, waged a ruthless campaign of disenfranchisement that had all but destroyed Black voting rights within a generation of Reconstruction. Facing another surge of African American voting, the white ruling classes of Georgia and North Carolina have cracked down once again, hellbent on clipping the wings of the beautiful butterfly of democracy struggling to be born below the Mason-Dixon line.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.