"GOPer opposes early voting because it will boost black turnout"
The headline refers to Georgia state Representative Fran Millar, who according to Zachary Roth of msnbc.com as linked above, "opposes new Sunday voting hours because they’ll primarily benefit African-Americans—then explaining that he simply "would prefer more educated voters." Millar is saying blacks are uneducated? Effectively yes. But he and other Republicans have created a torturous framework of faux-logic around the idea of ending early voting. This allows them to appear (in their own minds at least) to not be highly partisan and racist. You see, according to the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), "When a voter in an early voting state casts his or her ballot weeks before Election Day, they’re putting convenience over thoughtful deliberation." Sure, because you can't possibly know a couple of weeks before election day that Donald Trump is an insane racist; you have to research that all the way to election day before you can cast an informed ballot.
Plenty of Republicans and conservatives however will be glad to tell you that they want to reduce the timeframe in which folks can vote because they don't like Democrats. Their justification is... well, I'm not sure really. All's fair in love, war and politics? Consider remarks made the late conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in 2013, as analyzed by Jamelle Bouie of the Daily Beast:
"Here’s Schlafly: "The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that "early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election."""
"The Obama technocrats have developed an efficient system of identifying prospective Obama voters and then nagging them (some might say harassing them) until they actually vote. It may take several days to accomplish this, so early voting is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign."
"She later adds that early voting "violates the spirit of the Constitution" and facilitates "illegal votes" that "cancel out the votes of honest Americans." I’m not sure what she means by "illegal votes," but it sounds an awful lot like voting by Democratic constituencies: students, low-income people, and minorities."
As of 2018, Georgia Republicans are still trying to reduce the timeframe in which the polls are open. Democrats fortunately managed to defeat Senate Bill 363, which would have forced Atlanta’s polls to close at 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. and would have allowed voting in advance of Election Day on only one Saturday or Sunday. OK, so why is this bill needed exactly? From Mark Niesse of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Republicans complained that (early voting) gave an advantage to Democratic areas, where African-American churches could help drive turnout."
But hey, why debate what hours polling places will be open when you can just get rid of them in minority areas? In 2013 the Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote (surprise, surprise) gutted the Voting Rights Act, freeing nine states, mostly in the South where discrimination of minorities had historically occurred. This allowed those states for the first time in decades to change their election laws without advance federal approval. These same states of course wasted no time in making it harder for the poor and minorities to vote. From Ari Berman of the Nation: "The Leadership Conference for Civil Rights surveyed 381 of the 800 counties previously covered by Section 5 where polling place information was available in 2012 or 2014 and found there are 868 fewer places to cast a ballot in 2016 in these areas."
Berman notes that in the 2016 March primary voters waited five hours or more to cast a ballot, and that the closing of polling places in Arizona has occurred most heavily in minority areas that tend to vote Democratic:
"The lines were so long because Republican election officials in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per 21,000 registered voters."
"Tucson’s Pima County—the second largest in the state, which is 35 percent Latino and leans Democratic—"is the nation’s biggest closer of polling places," from 280 in 2012 to 218 in 2016."
"Many of these counties have been hot spots for voting discrimination. Cochise County, on the Mexico border, which is 30 percent Latino, was sued by the Justice Department in 2006 failing to print election materials in Spanish or have Spanish-speaking poll workers, in violation of the VRA. Today, the county "is the nation’s biggest closer by percentage," having shuttered 63 percent of its voting locations since Shelby. There will be only 18 polling places for 130,000 residents in 2016, down from 49 polling places in 2012."
According to a recent study from MIT, nationwide white voters have the shortest waits to vote at their polling place, followed by Latinos, followed by black Americans.
In my next post I'll have a special shout-out to the state to the state that's worked to hardest to disenfranchise everyone who doesn't usually vote Republican: North Carolina.