• 48°

Voter participation is key to Democracy

By Jack Bernard

Bernard is a retired corporate executive

Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy.”- Rep. Drew Ferguson, 3-6-21

Rep. Ferguson, I wish you believed what you wrote. You obviously do not, or you would back the For the People Act, HR 1, regarding election reform.

Ferguson wrote an AJC op-ed  and a constituent email stating HR-1 is a “radical overhaul,” “dangerous” and opens our elections to “fraud.” But he’s incorrect. HR 1 simply corrects unethical attempts by politicians to curb minority voting and use the system for personal gain.

HR 1- stops partisan gerrymandering by establishing independent commissions; automatically registers all voters; expands early and absentee voting; prohibits politically motivated “voter purging”; strengthens the currently weak Federal Elections Commission; limits big money special interest contributions; forces politicians to reveal and divest holdings; makes president’s disclose their tax returns; and outlaws Senators and House members from being on corporate boards. (https://www.americanprogress.org)

Historically, certain jurisdictions (including Georgia) have suppressed black voters. That’s why the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted and found to be constitutional many times by the Supreme Court between 1965 and 2012 … almost 50 years.

Unfortunately, in recent years Supreme Court has taken a politicized right turn. In 2013, on a 5-4 vote, it invalidated the key provision in the bill mandating preauthorization by specific jurisdictions before changing their election laws and redistricting. SCOTUS conservatives argued that the “country has changed.” Obviously, they were wrong.

Since 2013, we have seen a plethora of red state laws designed to reduce and minimalize minority voting, especially post 2020. Discriminatory strategies include gerrymandering, ID requirements, absentee voting restrictions, reduced weekend voting, ballot box restrictions, voter purges and so on. 

The 2020 election was historic for the State of Georgia with Biden winning the state and both Senate seats turning blue. Therefore, Georgia’s GOP leadership had to reevaluate their strategy in light of changing demographics and voter preferences.

There were two choices: a. the high road  broaden their base by improving upon their policies to make them more attractive to a demographically changing voter base or b. the low road  legislatively suppress Democrat and minority votes for as long as possible, increasing suppression methods.