‘Jim Eagle’ and Georgia’s Voting Law

Source: The Wall Street Journal (behind paywall).

WSJ’s editors indulge in a bit of light ridicule today:

Georgia passed its over-hyped voting law on Thursday, and the news was met with more of the same. President Biden said at his news conference that the voting bills percolating in GOP state Legislatures are “un-American,” “sick,” “pernicious,” and worse: “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. ”

C’mon, man, as Mr. Biden likes to say. The comparison is grotesque, and seeing that only requires swimming sideways for a minute to escape the rip current of the media narrative. Take a look at what’s actually in the legislation—and what isn’t.

They go on to catalog significant features of the legislation. Left in place are:

  • “Sunday voting, a point of contention with earlier proposals, given that black churches have a ‘souls to the polls’ tradition after services.”
  • “no-excuses absentee voting.”

Revisions include:

  • Elimination of signature matching on mail-in ballots. “Instead of signature matching, voters will submit a state ID number with their mail ballots or applications. This way there’s no arguing over handwriting: The ID number either matches or it doesn’t.”
  • New state authority to “suspend local election directors and appoint temporary replacements.”

The editors address a particular criticism that has appeared here in the Forum:

Much hay is being made about a provision that prevents third parties from giving gifts, including “food and drink” to those standing in line at the polls. But the point is to prevent activists from showing up in union shirts—or National Rifle Association shirts, for that matter—and passing out drinks and snacks, with some subtle electioneering thrown in.

As for the genuinely thirsty, the new law specifically allows poll workers to provide ‘self-service water from an unattended receptacle.’ Also, the legislation recognizes that it’s a failure if voters stand in line long enough to get parched. That’s why it says wait times at large precincts must be measured three times throughout Election Day. If the line hits an hour, changes are required before the next election.

Finally:

  • “The law makes ballot drop boxes a permanent part of Georgia’s voting architecture.”
  • “The runoff period will be shortened to four weeks.”

Even if you believe that high participation is the ultimate test of democracy (I don’t), there is little in Georgia’s new law to complain about.

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