ICYMI: “Georgia’s Kemp Accidentally Tells the Truth About Anti-Voting Law”

May 5, 2022

“The governor and his party didn’t like voters’ verdict, so they ‘did something about it’ by undermining voting rights.”

In case you missed it, during the final GOP gubernatorial debate, Brian Kemp “accidentally told the truth” about why he signed SB 202, one of the most egregious voter suppression laws in the country: he was “frustrated…with the results” of the 2020 election.

When discussing the 2020 election during the debate, Kemp said, “I was as frustrated as anyone else with the results, especially at the federal level. And we did something about it with Senate Bill 202.”

As MSNBC notes: “When the governor boasted over the weekend about approving Senate Bill 202 because of his frustration with election results, he was making clear that Georgia Republicans made it harder to vote in 2021 because they didn’t like losing in 2020.”

SB 202 made numerous changes making it more difficult for Georgians to cast a ballot and have it counted — including shortening the window during which voters can request and return an absentee ballot, drastically reducing the number of ballot drop boxes and eliminating hundreds of hours of drop box availability, making it much harder to vote by provisional ballot, and making it a crime for volunteers to hand out a bottle of water or snack to voters waiting in long lines.

MSNBC: Georgia’s Kemp accidentally tells the truth about anti-voting law

  • It was against this backdrop that the Republican candidates met for one more debate over the weekend, in advance of early voting getting underway yesterday, and the discussion predictably turned to the 2020 race. As part of the event, Kemp declared:
  • “I was as frustrated as anyone else with the results, especially at the federal level. And we did something about it with Senate Bill 202.”
  • Once in a while, a politician will make a mistake by accidentally telling the truth.
  • Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane to review how we arrived at this point. By all accounts, Georgia administered the 2020 elections perfectly well. As the dust settled, state officials boasted about how effective the system was, even in the midst of a pandemic.
  • The problem, of course, is that Democrats did surprisingly well in top-of-the-ballot races in Georgia, winning at the presidential and U.S. Senate levels. Trump predictably responded with unfounded conspiracy theories, and his allies were told to echo the lies.
  • Republican policymakers in Georgia, fueled by the Big Lie, got to work on a voter-suppression package — Senate Bill 202 — that the state clearly did not need, but which Kemp signed anyway. As regular readers may recall, the law made it harder to cast ballots through drop boxes, while simultaneously making it more difficult to cast absentee ballots. GOP officials also made it illegal to bring water to voters forced to wait in long lines.
  • A Vox report added that the same package even gave Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly “effective control over the State Board of Elections and empowers the state board to take over local county boards — functionally allowing Republicans to handpick the people in charge of disqualifying ballots in Democratic-leaning places like Atlanta.”
  • GOP officials in Georgia have experimented with assorted defenses, but Kemp went ahead and dropped the pretense during his most recent debate: The governor and his party didn’t like voters’ verdict, so they “did something about it” by undermining voting rights.
  • Which leaves us with the more controversial interpretation: When the governor boasted over the weekend about approving Senate Bill 202 because of his frustration with election results, he was making clear that Georgia Republicans made it harder to vote in 2021 because they didn’t like losing in 2020.
  • These admissions are unusual, but not unprecedented. Over the last decade or so, a handful of GOP officials — take a bow, Rep. Glenn Grothman — have accidentally admitted that voter-ID laws were part of a deliberate electoral scheme to help Republican candidates.
  • But the fact that Kemp has some company doesn’t make his unfortunate candor any better.

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