Georgia’s Election Law is Not Peachy
By Senator Karen Mayne and Senator Jani Iwamoto | April 1, 2021
While the state of Utah continues to strengthen our democratic structures that uphold elections and the right to vote, other corners of the United States have taken harmful steps in the contrary. Safeguarding some of our most central rights as Americans should be the principal agenda at every level of government. The recent actions in Georgia will spring consequences for our democracy and for the American people. As leaders in the state, we have a responsibility to denounce these harmful patterns and make certain that the “Utah way” continues to care for our democratic system and for voters far and wide.
When Governor Brian Kemp penned S.B. 202 into law last week, he asserted that the changes would make elections “secure, accessible, and fair” in Georgia, a state with an already troubling history when it comes to equal opportunity with suffrage. This new law only complements Georgia’s extensive efforts in its past to suppress voters’ participation in one of our most foundational practices as a Nation: elections.
Reducing the timeframe to request mail-in ballots, constraining the amount of secure ballot drop boxes, and restricting the hours voters can access drop boxes are all measures that create unnecessary difficulty for voters in the deceitful name of “security.” Additionally, prohibiting the simple act of delivering water to your neighbors at the polls is not only unusual, but it also raises questions about what democratic participation should look like. Do we want systems that encourage secure turnout within our communities, elevating the voice of the people? Or do we want to set uncalled-for hurdles at every step of the way?
Here in Utah, we take pride in our straightforward and accessible ways that allow eligible voters to cast their ballot. Instead of stifling participation, we have shaped the system in this great state to be an amplifier for the voice of the people. For over a decade now, Utah has exercised vote by mail because it’s the democratic approach. If you are an active registered voter, then you will receive a ballot in the mail with ease and with the ability to track its advancement in the system. Furthermore, the Legislature has twice approved legislation to allow for the piloting of alternative voting mechanisms like ranked choice voting.
This state has the great tradition of fostering high voter turnout, and while not always perfect, Utah values a process that supports voters to—at the very least—voice personal preferences on secure ballots, reassuring a government for and by the people. Regardless of whether you are a voter in a battleground state or not, you should always have the utmost confidence in any election and clear access to a secure, safe, and equitable system to participate in elections. Any form of suppression is undemocratic, and S.B. 202 from the Peach State is suspected of rot.