The Senate Rules Committee left the confines of the U.S. Capitol and went down to Georgia on Monday to hold a field hearing on the state’s new voting law, with Democrats insisting the bill is a racist measure meant to make voting more difficult for minorities.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who claimed that the rules were a new form of Jim Crow restrictions, noted how long the bill is – 80 pages – and asked Democratic State Sen. Sally Harrell if any part of it addressed having "a fair number of precincts" and a solution to the problem of long lines, which have kept minorities from voting in the past. As it turns out, she said, it does.
"There actually is a piece of a – a section in the bill that says that if it’s documented that people have to wait for a certain amount of time, that during the next election that precinct would be split," Harrell acknowledged.
While Harrell admitted that the problem of long lines and number of precincts is addressed by the bill, she then claimed that this was really a "smoking gun" for why the bill is actually detrimental to people’s ability to vote.
"Another tactic that’s been used in the past for voter suppression is the changing of precinct locations," Harrell explained. "People are creatures of habit. They tend to, if they did something one way once they think that that’s supposed to happen the same way the next time. That’s logical. So the voting location changes … the precinct gets split, they go to where they used to vote, and wait in line, and their name’s not on the roll, so then they have to go someplace else. Or they go someplace and it’s closed, and they don’t know where to go."
Democrats have railed against the Georgia bill, claiming it is racist for placing restrictions on voting. At Monday’s hearing, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., painted a dire picture when he appeared as a witness, stating that the U.S. is "a house that democracy built, and right now that house is on fire."
The criticism of the voting law from the left over the past several months led to a pressure campaign that resulted in last week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game being played in Denver instead of Atlanta, where it was originally supposed to be.
Republicans have countered that Democrats are spreading misinformation about the bill, and that is not meant to suppress votes but to make elections more secure.
The Washington Post’s fact checker backed up claims of Democratic misrepresentation when they awarded President Biden a maximum four "Pinocchios" for falsely stating that it "ends voting hours early," when in reality it will keep Election Day hours the same and in most cases would likely expand hours for early voting.