Biden, for example, suggested the law would close polling stations at 5 p.m. This will not be the case. As is already the case, local governments must keep polling stations open until 5 p.m. and may keep them open until 7 p.m. (CNN’s Daniel Dale and the Post’s Glenn Kessler both exposed the incorrect claims. by Biden.)
“The entire existence of the legislation in question rests on a pernicious lie”, Tim Miller du Rempart wrote. “But for some reason, Biden and many other Dems grossly exaggerate the details of what they’re actually doing.” In some cases, Democrats seem to be talking about provisions that the Georgian legislature considered but did not include.
What about the impact of the provisions that are really in the act? It is inherently uncertain. But the Times’ Nate Cohn argued the effects would be weaker than many critics suggest. He believes this will have little effect on the overall turnout or election results.
He points out that the law primarily restricts early voting, not voting on polling day. Early voters tend to be more educated and more engaged in politics. They often vote no matter what, whether it’s early or on election day. More generally, Nate argues that modest changes to the convenience of voting – like those in Georgian law – have had little to no effect when other states have adopted them.
Of course, Georgia is so closely divided that even a small effect – say on turnout in Atlanta – could decide an election. And the law has another alarming side, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Nate and Patricia Murphy noted: It could help state lawmakers more easily overrule an election result after the vote count.
The bottom line
The new Georgian law is intended to be a partisan takeover. This is an attempt to win an election by changing the rules rather than persuading more voters. It is incompatible with the fundamental ideals of democracy. But if its intention is clear, its impact is less so. It may not have the profound effect its designers hope and critics fear.
Matthew Yglesias of Substack offers some helpful context: Georgia’s law is based on “one big lie,” he writes, which is certainly worrying. But the impact will likely be modest, he predicts. And for people worried about the state of America’s democracy, laws like Georgia’s aren’t the biggest problem. The bigger problem is that the Electoral College, the Senate structure and the gerrymandering of the House districts mean that winning public opinion is often not enough to win elections and rule the country.