Roy Exum: Truth And The Ga. Act

Thursday, April 15, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I dare say that I could take 100 copies of the 98-page Georgia Election Integrity Act and send it to the smartest 100 people I know. In return, I am totally convinced that I would have 95 of those people – once they took the time to read it – who would agree it makes voting easier and cheating harder. But if I sent it to 100 of my more liberal friends – who are all thoughtful listeners – I believe in my heart of hearts I may get a 100% approval because I have yet to find a liberal type, one who has befriended me, who does not join me in the staunch belief that the truth is absolute.

Why? Because unlike the Ford and General Motors leaders who just lent their unlearned and misinformed voices to the raucous crowd, not a one has bothered to (1) actually read the 98-page Act, as it is formally called, (2) taken time to listen to the pros and cons of reason, or worst of all (3) have found it is easier to march with the mob than stand for the truth.

I have before me a critique of the bill that is the most unbiased version I have read since the hallowed game of baseball was hijacked in a political after-thought by life’s losers. This version was written by Ivan Pentchoukov, a prolific writer, and appeared in my April 7-13 edition of the Epoch Times, a fair-mined weekly newspaper I greatly enjoy.

This is a bit long but no one can argue its fairness, nor the points Mr. Pentchoukov holds as true (as the 98-page original will confirm), nor the proof that when both supporters and detractors actually “listen,” read, or inquire, a lot of misinformation will fall away to the truth, as has happened fairly often since the year 1776:

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WHAT’S IN THE GEORGIA ELECTION INTEGRITY ACT OF 2021

(NOTE: This story appeared in the April 6th, 2021 editions of The Epoch Times (www.The EpochTimes, in both print and Internet format.)

BY IVAN PENTCHOUKOV April 6, 2021

Republicans in Georgia enacted a set of election changes last month that has become the target of criticism by Democrats, the White House, large corporations, and Major League Baseball. Most of the criticisms center on the new law purportedly making it harder to vote, which allegedly amounts to voter suppression. President Joe Biden called the law “sick” for forcing polls to close at 5 p.m., a claim that even the fact-checkers at the left-wing Washington Post deemed “false.”

A review of the 98-page bill shows that it would slightly restrict access to early voting while expanding it in other ways. Taken in its totality, the bill appears to have a negligible overall effect on how easy it will be to vote in Georgia during the next election.

Meanwhile, nearly all descriptions of the law by establishment media either entirely ignore or mention only in passing its election security and ballot-integrity provisions. Gov. Brian Kemp specifically described the new law—titled the Election Integrity Act of 2021—as one that would make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The law itself states that the aftermaths of the 2018 and 2020 elections were marked by a significant lack of confidence because of allegations of voter suppression and voter fraud.

But even the new election integrity measures are a mixed bag of changes that have already been criticized as not going far enough by former President Donald Trump and former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. Trump criticized the removal of signature matching, while Kline argued that the bill didn’t do enough to bar the infusion of private money into election infrastructure.

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SECURITY AND INTEGRITY

The law includes a number of measures that were designed to tighten election security and the integrity of the ballot. It requires the creation of a hotline where Georgians can report illegal election activities and voter suppression, mandates around-the-clock surveillance of ballot drop-boxes, and calls for ballots to be printed on security paper for authentication.

The absentee ballot drop-boxes now must be secured inside buildings and will only be accessible when those buildings are open for business. The law limits the number of drop-boxes to the lesser of one for every 100,000 registered voters or the number of advance voting locations per county.

The new rules call for absentee ballots to be removed from the drop-boxes each voting day by a team of at least two people, who fill out a ballot transfer form that includes their identities and an affirmation that the drop-box was closed after the ballots were retrieved. The election officials who receive the ballots also are required to fill out a transfer form.

The law requires these absentee ballot transfer forms to be a public record. Trump has more than once referred to the more than 400,000 transfer forms that haven’t yet been produced in response to a request by a local news outlet.

The law requires the manager of each advance voting location to open the drop-box at the beginning of each day to be sure it’s empty. If the box isn’t empty, the manager is to alert local election authorities who then must notify the secretary of state.

The Peach State did away with signature matching in favor of verifying voter identities using driver’s licenses and state ID numbers. People without either form of ID can submit the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Georgia already requires in-person voters to show a physical ID. As a result, absentee ballots are still more prone to fraud because potential perpetrators don’t need to produce an official government document or appear in person to do so. Coupling the ID requirement with signature matching would have made it more difficult to cheat.

The law makes it a felony for unauthorized persons to handle ballots or unseal absentee ballot envelopes. Voters are also barred from applying for absentee ballots multiple times.

The law’s prohibition against handing food and drinks to voters in line, much maligned by Biden, is part of a ban on the provision of money, gifts, and other items to voters. Ahead of the 2020 election, multiple groups across several states raffled off cash gift cards and expensive items for voters who turned up at the polls.

The measure also provides for Georgia’s participation in the multistate voter registration database to identify voters who have moved or cast ballots in multiple states.

The law prohibits local election superintendents from accepting any private funds unless they’re disseminated by the county, state, or federal governments. Kline penned an op-ed pointing out that the restriction doesn’t go far enough, since private entities can still funnel donations to county and state governments. Billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated more than $400 million in 2020 to local election authorities across the nation. Much of the money went to Democratic-leaning counties in swing states, according to Kline.

The former Kansas attorney general (Phill Kline) nevertheless said the Georgia election reforms would overall make it harder to cheat.

“The idea that the Georgia election reform bill is suppressing to voters is a complete lie, it actually expands access to early voting,” Kline wrote on Twitter. “The only thing the Georgia voting bill is suppressing is the left’s ability to cheat in future elections.”

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THE QUEST FOR TRANSPARENCY

Built on top of the security and integrity measures, the new law adds a number of transparency requirements, some of which appear to address the controversies following the 2020 election. The law grants the secretary of state the power to inspect absentee ballot envelopes and applications statewide. It also makes scanned ballot images public record.

The law requires the duplication of defective or damaged ballots to be overseen by a bipartisan committee. Videos of polling places from the 2020 election appear to show unsupervised personnel duplicating defective ballots.

Election officials are now prohibited from pausing ballot counting until all of the ballots have been processed, another issue that received significant criticism in the aftermath of the 2020 election in Georgia. Election superintendents who fail to post election results in their precincts by 5 p.m. the day after the election could trigger a performance review by an independent panel appointed by the state’s election board.

The act requires local election officials to publish absentee and early voting statistics on a daily basis during the early voting period. Local election officials are now required to publish the times and days the polls are open on their websites or, if they don’t have websites, in newspapers.

* * *

THE ACT WILL ACTUALLY BETTER VOTER ACCESS

While much of the left-wing criticism has focused on the bill purportedly making it harder to vote, the specific provisions around the issue cut both ways.

The bill makes no changes to Election Day hours. For early voting, the law shrinks the period during which people can apply for mail ballots to 78 days before an election, instead of 180 days, while expanding both the hours and the days on which the polls are open. Georgia voters will now be able to vote during two Saturdays prior to an election, with localities having the option to expand poll operating hours to 7 a.m.–7 p.m. instead of the “regular business hours” language that was previously in effect. Precincts can also have the option of opening the polls for one or two Sundays in the early voting period. Requests for a ballot must now be received 11 days prior to an election.

Mail ballots will now be sent out 25 to 29 days before the election, instead of 45 to 49 days. The law expands to 10 days from five the period when people confined to a hospital can cast an absentee vote.

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OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE GEORGIA VOTING INTEGRITY ACT

A significant portion of the new law is devoted to wresting some of the power over election rulemaking from the state election board and the secretary of state and toward the state’s democratically elected legislature. There are also a number of requirements for how voters who show up at the wrong precinct can cast a ballot, as well as rules for runoff elections.

* * *

Unless your intent isn’t to uphold the Constitutional integrity of the American freedom to vote fairly, what can possibly be wrong about Georgia’s attempt to make its voting process better?

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The Epoch Times is one of my favorite weekly blessings and you can learn more about it at www.theepochtimes.com. A digital subscription is available but if you’ll subscribe to the print subscription, delivered by mail once a week, you will pick it up repeatedly all week, and the digital subscription, with updates, is included.

royexum@aol.com


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