The devil went down to Georgia to suppress the vote

The devil went down to Georgia to suppress the vote
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Voter turnout hit record levels last year, which should have made everybody who is part of our democratic process happy. 

Not only was turnout high but there was little voter fraud. In a failed bid to overturn President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE’s defeat, his campaign was unable to present any evidence to dozens of courts that there was enough voter fraud to overturn the results. 

All seems good. After all, what more can one ask for in a democracy when turnout is so high and voter fraud is so low?

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Instead, the right to vote is under serious attack across the country. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice indicated that legislators in 47 states have filed 253 bills to restrict voting rights. 

Ground zero in the fight to suppress the vote is the state of Georgia. Citing concerns about election integrity, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia Gov. Kemp says FDA needs to upgrade its authorization for vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Savannah becomes first major city in Georgia to reinstate masks MORE signed a bill into law last week that makes early voting and absentee voting more difficult. The measure even makes it a crime to offer water or food to people waiting in voting lines. 

This is the same governor, by the way, who rejected pleas from Trump to overturn the results of the presidential election because of voter fraud. 

So, what happened to create the need for a law that suppresses the vote? Democratic victories in Georgia happened. Though democracy wasn’t in distress in the Peach State, the Republican Party certainly was.

In 2018, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the gubernatorial election to Kemp, but she went right back to work building up the Democratic Party in the traditionally Republican state. Her hard work paid off quickly. Joe Biden won the state’s electoral votes last November, which helped propel him into the White House.

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Then the voters elected two new democratic United States senators in January, which turned the upper chamber of Congress from red to blue. Building on these democratic victories, Abrams now poses a serious threat to the governor’s reelection next year. 

The attempt to suppress the vote in Georgia and quash Abrams' hard work is clear. The GOP response to the growing power of African American voters seems to be “if we can’t beat them at the polls, we’ll cheat them out of their votes.”

The GOP responded quickly to preserve its privileged perch in the state. The law is a political power grab at its very worst. Without any evidence of voter fraud, the Georgia's act is a solution without a problem.

Voting rights activists have asked a federal court to nullify the new law. The suit argues that the obstacles to suffrage in the measure disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters who eagerly sought out increased opportunities to vote in 2020 and 2021.  

While Republicans in red states fight to limit voting, Democrats in Congress work hard to expand suffrage. The Democratic majority in the House has already passed the For The People Act, which would increase voting opportunities nationally. The House is also considering the John LewisJohn LewisHouse ethics panel decides against probe after Hank Johnson civil disobedience Constitutional rights are the exception Clintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act that would protect the vulnerable voting rights of racial minorities.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. often said “the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” The arc of American political history is to increase — not restrict — voter participation. In the early days of the republic, only white male property owners could vote. But after long hard battles, the right to vote has expanded exponentially to include women and racial minorities.

While the expansion of voting rights to all white voters has been secure, there have been periodic attempts to take the vote away from African Americans. The civil rights battles of the 1960’s reclaimed Black voting rights, but they are under attack again. President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE weighed in on the battle against voter suppression when he described the Georgia action as “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

Now, Republicans are trying to turn back the clock instead of adjusting to the tide of history. The GOP would be better served by reaching out to win the hearts and minds of the growing numbers of minority voters instead of excluding them from the body politic. A party without a vision for expansion is a party without a healthy future. 

Attempts to limit voting are a sure sign of democracy in deep decline. Big voter turnout is an indication of a political system in the full bloom of spring. 

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.