By: Bill Crane
October 21, 2020
Since my first election, a General Primary in 1980, I have missed voting in one Special Election Bond Referendum, and one Presidential Preference Primary, back when we did not have ‘no excuse’ Absentee Voting in Georgia (1984). My voting patterns and loyalty even pre-date the “I Have Voted” stickers.
In the mid-to-late 80s, I spent five-years in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, as Press Secretary to longtime Secretary of State and later U.S. Senator, Max Cleland. What I learned about Election Law and the process of running elections from Frances Duncan, Ann Bowen Hicks, Jeff Lanier, Linda Beasley and dozens of other local Registrars and Election Superintendents, would more then fill a few volumes of the old World Book Encyclopedia.
These and dozens of Georgia’s County Registrars and Election Superintendents are walking encyclopedia’s of the election process. While working for Secretary of State Cleland, we did advocate for and later secure passage of Georgia’s Motor Voter Law, which allows for the automatic registration of voters seeking a driver’s license, UNLESS they chose to opt-out, much like the organ donation process, but with a higher rate of ‘opt-in.’ We also changed the law to make it easier for college students to register and vote, either in their home community, or at their college campus, in or out of state, but NOT at both addresses and elections.
During this time in my life, Georgia was virtually under one-party rule, all of Georgia’s then minority GOP could hold their state convention in a large phone booth, with a bit of room to spare. Not to disparage all those Democratic Party leaders and elected officials, but major shifts and expansion of voting hours, days/dates, electronic registration, multi-party registration, political party, and special event voter registration, etc…in the main all came into law after the GOP takeover of the political majority in Georgia got underway in 2002.
Three weeks of early voting, including a Saturday voting day, hundreds of new precincts, and dozens of early voting locations, all came on the watch of Georgia GOP Governors, and under Republican-led General Assemblies. Free online voter registration, is an innovation by a GOP Secretary of State you may be familiar with…now Governor Brian Kemp. A statewide voter registration database, which eliminates duplication and folks attempting to vote in multiple jurisdictions… GOP. No-excuse Absentee Voting, mailed from any address, with a simple one-page form, which makes no inquiry regarding the race of voter? GOP. The My Voter Page, which tells any voter their specific voting precinct, early voting locations, and the current offices and districts in which they actually live…GOP. The Ballot Trax system which follows an Absentee ballot from application to dropbox and/or mail receipt by local elections office? GOP. Ballot drop boxes versus ONLY use of the U.S. mail or hand delivery to your precinct? GOP.
It is WRONG for President Donald Trump to continually insist that the only way he might lose this election is if the system ballot tabulation is rigged. It is also WRONG for those politically obsessed with the benefits of claiming voter suppression to turn every inconvenience, non-preferred outcome, or anything less than 24-hour universal ballot access for non-citizens, the dead, false addresses, non-area residents etc…to all become valid ballots. This obsession with suppression does have political benefits, particularly for firing up the Democratic Party base, but it is both disingenuous and undermines faith in the system which is the bedrock of our Republic.
As of 8 p.m. October 18, 2020, 1,482,432 ballots have already been cast for the 2020 election in Georgia, an advance voting record, with more than two weeks to go. The percentage increase of early voting turnout is 156% over 2016. The increase thus far in Absentee Voting by mail since the last Presidential Election is 653.4%. That’s not a typo.
New voter registration this year among Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all at record levels, in a state without the requirement of party registration or preference. It has never been easier to register, vote, and select your method of voting in Georgia (among four). This suppression obsession will continue at least through this election day, while the facts belie that narrative rather substantially. Do your homework, be ready for the federal, state, and local races, on your long ballot, and don’t forget the Constitutional amendments…but via Absentee, Advance, in person, or via provisional ballot. Go vote, and get one of those nifty new Peach, “I Secured My Vote” stickers. GOP.