William Haupt III
The author is a Center Square contributor
“I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal. If they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen.”
– Walter Cronkite
The Georgia Election Integrity Act of 2021 triggered national apoplexy, with Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, admonishing them as Jim Crow 2. The fallout from President Biden’s rant led to Major League Baseball relocating its all-star game to Colorado.
But sorting fact from fiction indicates this was Democratic politics at its worst since Colorado’s voting laws are far more restrictive than any laws in Georgia.
The Washington Post, not known for being pro right on anything, gave President Biden “four Pinocchios” for his claim that SB 202 was “21st century Jim Crow.” According to the Post, the net effect of the Election Integrity Act was to expand opportunities to vote for Georgians, not limit them.” Elections expert Charles Stewart said, “The expanded voting hours boosted turnout for all Georgia voters.”
In the first election held under the Election Integrity Act, Georgians showed up in record numbers during three weeks of early voting for the 2022 primary. Short lines, easy ballot access and security brought out over 850,000 to cast their ballots, which was an increase of 168% over the last election.
This was also a substantial 212% increase in Georgia’s last presidential primary election in 2020.
This election discredited President Biden’s claim SB 202 was Jim Crow 2 and proved he never worked in the civil rights movement as he claimed. There were no literacy tests, poll taxes or fighting off billy clubs and police dogs while trying to vote. Mr. Biden’s remarks were an insult to Georgia’s lawmakers.
“I don’t recall specific times and places we picketed, but I guarantee you, I was there.”
– Joe Biden
Although the Democrats claim to be the champions of higher turnout and making it easier to vote on Election Day, when it comes to scheduling off-cycle elections, the Democratic Party is the king of voter suppression. Off-year elections have much lower turnouts and Democrats want it that way.
Many off-year elections take place for local offices, like city and county commissions and school boards. This also includes referendums to raise property taxes and registration fees. But only a small number of highly engaged voters participate in these elections, especially those who live in rural areas of the state. Most rural areas are unaware that these elections are even taking place.
Election law expert Rick Hasen notes that there is a philosophical divide between the parties.
For Republicans, some requirements for participation, such as voter ID laws, can help the functioning of a democracy. Republicans believe voter ID laws prevent fraud and foster confidence in the system. They also argue that ID regulations attract voters who are better informed and educated on issues.
Mr. Hansen claims that the Democratic philosophy about voting is entirely different. Democrats care far less about “informed voters” and much more about “universal or mandated participation.” The left believes all voices ought to be heard in the electoral sphere, educated or not, about candidates or issues. This herd mentality insists anyone can vote, legal-or-not,. Elections are about counting numbers, nothing else.
Debates over issues like voter ID are politically explosive for both parties, but the motivations and strategies of how and when Democratic states schedule their elections profoundly benefit them.
In the blue state of New Jersey, the election calendar is absolute chaos. New Jersey holds federal elections on the same days as the rest of the country. But elections for state offices in New Jersey are held in November of odd-numbered years. School district elections are held the third Tuesday in April. And fire district commissioner elections are on the third Saturday each February.
“I try to stay in a constant state of confusion because of the expression it leaves on my face.”
– Johnny Depp
Political scientist Sarah Anzia of UC Berkeley said these off-calendar elections are for politicians, not voters, since voters don’t like making multiple trips to precincts, which sometimes change mid year. It is not uncommon for voters to show up where they voted before only to find it has been relocated.
In a national survey of voters from all political parties, voters were asked if they prefer elections held at different times for different offices because it allowed them to focus on a shorter list of issues or candidates. Most voters said they preferred consolidated elections for all offices.
“Most voters show up for a presidential election, but won’t cross the street to vote for the school board.”
– Henry Young
All blue states are notorious for splitting local office elections from federal campaigns. If they were to combine all elections, it would boost voter turnout for these elections. Although 93% of all voters prefer combined elections, Democrats refuse to do this. They need to control local government so they can fill school boards and the county commissions with liberals who support big government.
According to Sarah Anzia, more than 200 bills aimed at consolidating elections were filed between 2001 and 2011 across the country. Over half of them were focused specifically on moving school board election dates so they’d coincide with other elections. But only 25 of them passed and were signed into law.
“God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.”
– Mark Twain
Every one of these bills to consolidate school board elections with other general election dates was sponsored by Republicans. Most of these bills proposed failed to get out of the first committee due to opposition from Democratic-aligned interest groups. Teachers unions and municipal employee organizations united with Democratic legislatures and stopped these bills from getting to the floor.
Democrats, teachers and public service unions fight like junkyard dogs to protect their turf from the GOP. When municipal offices and school boards hold separate elections at odd times, few voters even bother to show up. Only those with a special interest in these elections such as friends, family and co-workers go to the polls. This allows big government liberals to set policy and maintain it.
Sarah Anzia points out that deliberately moving school board elections to different dates than other elections always results in higher salaries and better benefits for teachers and other school district employees. She said when elections are combined, salaries are reduced and so are other benefits.
Sophocles told us, “There is no greater evil than deception.” Local government is the farm system for state and federal offices. If your state splits the election cycle to allow favorite daughters and sons to control schools and local government, it’s time your state legislatures got a wake up call. Local government and the school boards have been playing with a stacked deck. The only ones benefiting from off-calendar elections are teachers, public servant unions and liberal politicians.
“Liberals do things that make them look good, feel good and sound good — but show little interest in the actual consequences of their actions as long as things are done their way.”
– Thomas Sowell