GOP Critics: Blue States Have Voting Laws Stricter Than Georgia's
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, R-Texas, defended election reform in his state. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 08 April 2021 09:51 AM
Republicans pushing for new voting laws nationwide say their proposals allow better ballot access than laws some blue states already have, and that Democrats and activists are employing a double standard when claiming laws such as Georgia's new legislation are racist.
The argument has gotten new fire with Major League Baseball's move to relocate its All-Star Game this summer from Atlanta to Denver. Republican leaders, in interviews and news conferences, have pointed out that Colorado's voter ID law is equally strict, and the state has fewer voting days, reports NBC News.
Republicans are correct in complaints about some traditionally Democrat states, such as New York, where advocates say some voting policies are anti-voter. There also are some red states that are promoting voter access, notes NBC. Several states are working to make ballot access easier while others, such as Texas and Georgia, are toughening their restrictions after the November 2020 election.
The Republican-controlled legislature in Texas is considering bill packages to limit early voting options, add penalties for mistakes officials make in the election process, and other plans that are already causing critics to speak out, even though nothing had yet come to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
"So if, somehow, we're accused of being racist because we want to suppress the vote of the people of color, I guess New York, New Jersey, and Delaware are even more racist," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Texas, told reporters earlier this year while defending election reform in his state.
This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made a similar argument and accused companies that criticize voting bills in red states of having overlooked problems in other places.
"Wealthy corporations have no problem operating in New York, for example, which has fewer days of early voting than Georgia, requires excuses for absentee ballots, and restricts electioneering via refreshments," he said. "There is no consistent or factual standard being applied here. It's just a fake narrative gaining speed by its own momentum."
Advocates admit Democrat states need to do more work, and acknowledge that there is still work to do in several red states.
"It doesn't have to be a partisan thing, 'but New York?' A lot of election advocates respond, 'Yeah — and — New York,'" said Justin Levitt, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School at Loyola Marymount University in California, who worked at the Justice Department during the Obama administration, told NBC News.
Election policy experts, however, say Republicans are outlining a false equivalence, and that argument being used to justify major changes in state election laws after former President Donald Trump's loss to President Joe Biden.
"New York, New Jersey, Delaware have all moved increasingly in the last few years to increase options for voting, while Georgia, Texas, Iowa have gone the opposite direction," said Bob Brandon, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Fair Elections Center. He added that Colorado has "led the way in expanding ways and options to vote and as a result has among the highest turnout of any state around the country."
Colorado has come under fire after MLB's move to Denver, particularly for having fewer days of early in-person voting than Georgia, which now has at least 17, according to its new law.
However, Colorado, a blue state, has almost entirely mailed-in voting. Eligible voters can choose to vote during the 15 days of early voting and on Election Day, and 94% of voters mail in their ballots.
Colorado voters are required to show ID, which can include utility bills and paychecks, and voters' ballots undergo a signature match process.
Georgia, meanwhile, allows only government or tribal photo ID, and voters must now include driver's license numbers or other proof of their identity with documentation. Before Georgia's new law, mail ballots were verified by a signature match process like Colorado's.