It’s an election year in the US, and that means that the Republicans and Democrats will spend millions of dollars trying to convince you—the American voter—to vote for their candidate or against that of the opposition party.
When they’re not using television, online ads, and social media to convince you why their candidate is best, politicians of both parties use the tools of government—all of which they control—to tweak who can vote, where they vote, how they vote, and by what means they’re able to cast a ballot.
Just last week, the Georgia legislature advanced a measure, Senate Bill 363, that would shorten by an hour the time polls are open in the city of Atlanta. Today, polling places in Georgia’s capital city stay open until 8 pm, while the rest of the state closes at 7 pm.
The sponsor of the legislation says the bill is necessary for the sake of “uniformity.” Just as likely, the legislator, and the state’s Republican majority are responding to the recent loss of a state senate seat in which a Democrat won in a district that is split between the city of Atlanta and next-door Cobb County. The idea being that largely Democratic Atlanta had more of an opportunity to vote than those outside the city.
If continuity and uniformity are the ultimate goal of SB363, why not keep the rest of Georgia’s polling places open an extra hour, ensuring that anyone getting off work late or fighting traffic would have the chance to participate?
Atlanta is a thriving, and ever-growing metropolis. The Georgia legislature’s actions, though cloaked in “fairness” strikingly have the feel of reducing the turnout of voters that are unlikely to vote for, or support, the Republican majority’s agenda.
Restricting voter access, by any means, is against the spirit of our democracy. Georgia voters should let their representatives know they oppose SB363.