Secretary of State Karen Handel is in the AJC today explaining that she cannot decide all on her own to extend early voting, no matter how badly the AJC and the Democrats want it.
Taking the lead from the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution advocates that Gov. Sonny Perdue and I make up election law just four days before Election Day. As the newspaper is very aware, even if the authority existed —- which it does not —- Georgia is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which means that any changes in election procedures must be “precleared” by the U.S. Department of Justice before they can be implemented.
Usually, this newspaper is a stickler for following the law and procedures. I wonder what their position would be if another political party made a similar request? I’ll leave that to the imagination of the readers.
The facts are that Georgia voters enjoy perhaps the broadest ballot access of any state in the nation. Thanks to the 45 days of early and advance voting, approximately 1.5 million citizens have already cast ballots, and this is with the photo ID law in effect. By most measures, this would be considered a success. Even compared to Florida, our voters have much more time to vote.
Moreover, any changes now would introduce prohibitive legal, practical and logistical hurdles to our elections process. Maybe if Florida had followed our lead, Gov. Charlie Crist may not have had to declare a state of emergency and ask counties to stay open longer and over the weekend.
Of course following the law is no barrier to cries of disenfranchisement which have begun by people like Chris Kromm.
Some commentators are waxing nostalgic about the long lines and waits as a sign that democracy is thriving. In reality, they’re a sign that our democracy is broken.
Long lines are a voting rights issue. They disproportionately keep voters who have health problems, or who have work and family responsibilities to tend to, from participating.
The impact is significant. According to one survey, some 129,000 voters in Ohio claimed they were stopped from voting because of long lines in the 2004 elections ; bi-partisan studies estimate 5,000 to 15,000 were disenfranchised in Columbus, OH alone. President Bush won the battleground state — and therefore the election — by 118,000 votes.
Karen Handel’s stubborn intention to follow the law will of course lead to McCain stealing the election just like the Regan did in 1980 and 1984, G.H.W. Bush did in 1988, and G.W. Bush did 2000 and 2004 (do you sense my sarcasm?)
I’ve stood in line in previous elections and seen folks in wheelchairs brought to the front of the line and allow to vote. Does Chris Kromm really believe that sick and elderly are forced away from the polls?
Seriously folks, the State of Georgia has gone the extra mile to make sure everyone who wants too has the opportunity to vote.