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  • Writer's pictureCorey Lee Wilson

Big Lie About Georgia Voting Has Been Shredded

We all know what happens when a tree falls in an empty forest. What happens when a democracy emerges unscathed from a purported vile racist threat to its very existence?

Pretty much the same thing, it turns out.

The surge in the early vote in Georgia shows that all the smears about the state’s new voting law, repeated by everyone from the president of the United States on down, were complete nonsense — a fevered fantasy that the credulous and fanatical believed because they didn’t know better, and the cynical and opportunistic believed because it served their purposes.

On the Republican side, according to the secretary of state’s office, there were 453,929 early votes and 29,220 absentee votes so far this primary season (the absentee votes will keep coming in through Election Day on Tuesday). This is compared with just 153,264 early votes and 14,795 absentee voters during the last, pre-pandemic midterm, in 2018.

The Democrats have seen a similar surge. In 2022, there were 337,245 early votes and 31,704 absentee votes so far, compared with only 134,542 early votes and 13,051 absentee votes in 2018.

Early Vote Among Minorities in Particular is Up Markedly

As Jim Geraghty has pointed out, the early vote among minorities in particular is up markedly. It never made sense that the Georgia law was going to stop anyone from voting.

The provisions that the Left complained about were clearly innocuous.

The rule against third parties providing food and drink to voters standing in lines at the polls was merely meant to stop electioneering at polling places (and the law attempts to address long lines, typically a problem of large, Democratic-run jurisdictions). The law limited drop boxes, but they hadn’t existed prior to 2020. It moved from signature match on mail-in ballots to the more reliable driver’s license or state-ID number — not a sea change. And it expanded hours available for early voting.

Now that a tsunami of early voting has shown that, indeed, there’s no voter suppression in Georgia, the disinformation scolds are nowhere to be seen; the fact-checkers aren’t swinging into action; the major newspapers aren’t preparing tick-tocks on how the president was led down the path of promoting misinformation about the legitimacy of our electoral system; the Sunday shows didn’t do long segments devoted to the theme of how democracy in Georgia, once claimed to be hanging by a thread, has remarkably revived — praise God, and hallelujah.

Nina Jankowicz hasn’t celebrated the triumph of truth over a baldly misleading viral narrative in prose, verse, or song — and presumably she never will. As with the Russian hoax, having promoted the Georgia voting hoax means never having to admit error, let alone apologize.

There wasn’t a cottage industry, as the cliché has it, devoted to warning of the dire effects of the Georgia voting law; there was a veritable pollution-belching smoke-stack industry.

The widely quoted Brennan Center, whose job is to seed the media with left-wing arguments masquerading as neutral analysis, went into overdrive. It claimed that, as one headline had it, “Voter Suppression Efforts in Georgia Are Escalating,” and in another piece, titled simply, “Georgia’s Voter Suppression Law,” that “Gov. Brian Kemp signed a wide-ranging bill that targets Black voters with uncanny accuracy.”

The progressive commentariat wrote as if the 1950s were upon us once again. Charles Blow of the New York Times was on the case. He wrote columns headlined “Voter Suppression Must Be the Central Issue” and “Voter Suppression Is Grand Larceny.” Like much of the Left, he believed that President Biden was a near-quisling for not fighting the scourge of disenfranchisement on the landing grounds and the beaches — “Mr. President, You’re Just Plain Wrong on Voter Suppression” read another headline. According to Blow, “Biden wants to make history with his agenda, but history is already being made by

Republicans with this extraordinary voter suppression push.”

Question: “If It’s Not Jim Crow, What Is It?” Answer: Another False Democrat Narrative

Blow’s colleague Jamelle Bouie wrote a column asking of the Georgia law, “If It’s Not Jim Crow, What Is It?” He compared the Peach State measures to facially neutral voting laws in the segregationist South that were really meant to disenfranchise blacks. “To the extent,” he wrote of the law, “that it plays at neutrality while placing burdens on specific groups of voters on a partisan (and inescapably racial) basis, it is, at least, Jim Crow-adjacent.” How judicious.

A University of Maryland professor opined at the Washington Post, “Georgia’s voter suppression laws betray the promise of Reconstruction.”

And on it went.

Newsrooms took up the same themes. A headline in a news story in the New York Times read, “Georgia G.O.P. Passes Major Law to Limit Voting Amid Nationwide Push.” Another headline on a Times story ran, “Why the Georgia G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Will Hit Black People Hard.” That report claimed that “the Republican legislation will undermine pillars of voting access by limiting drop boxes for mail ballots, introducing more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting and making it a crime to provide food or water to people waiting in line to vote.“

Those are pillars of voting access? Really? More important than easily being able to register and vote by mail or in-person in advance or on Election Day?

A dispatch for the Washington Post’s food section, of all places, reported, “New limits on food and water at Georgia’s polls could hinder Black and low-income voters, advocates say.”

Of course, civil-rights activists and politicos didn’t hold back. “Our democracy stands in its final hour,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said, in urging to Joe Biden to do even more after his speech attacking the Georgia law last January.

In Georgia, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, a leader of the state’s African Methodist Episcopal churches, related to reporters after a meeting with the lieutenant governor: “I told him exactly how I felt: that these bills were not only voter suppression, but they were in fact racist, and they are an attempt to turn back time to Jim Crow.”

State senator Jen Jordan, a Democrat from outside Atlanta, called the bill “a Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression.”

Stacey Abrams, the original fount of much of the misinformation about voting in Georgia, explained the alleged Republican approach: “Instead of winning new voters, you rig the system against their participation, and you steal the right to vote.”

And then, at Atlanta University in January, Biden came in with his disgraceful speech condemning the Georgia law. “Every Democrat, independent, and Republican will have to declare where they stand,” he said, adding, “History has never been kind to those who side with voter suppression over voting rights.”

“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” he asked. “The side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

Well, It’s Election Season in Georgia and Bull Connor and Jeff Davis Haven’t Shown Up

The journalistic reaction has been, shall we say, muted. Despite its dire previous coverage, the New York Times didn’t see fit to mention the false warnings about the Georgia law in its report on the early vote.

The AP had run a story in which Georgia featured prominently, headlined “As America embraces early voting, GOP hurries to restrict it.” But a report on what’s happened so far in the primaries notes, without mentioning the erroneous prior warnings, that Georgia voters “are turning to early, in-person voting, which is setting records. About 305,000 ballots have been cast at early voting locations across the state, or three times as many who did so for the same period during the 2018 primary, according to state officials.”

To its credit, the Washington Post didn’t memory-hole the long freak-out about Georgia, running a story headlined “Voting is surging in Georgia despite controversial new election law.” A better headline would have been “Voting is surging in Georgia despite allegations about new election law.”

A thread throughout the Post story chronicles how Democratic activists have changed their strategies in reaction to the law. But if you can defeat alleged voter suppression with ease by registering people and getting them out to vote in massive numbers, it’s a good sign that there wasn’t any voter suppression to begin with.

The Post report ends with an anecdote about Patsy Reid, a 70-year-old, African-American retiree who was surprised that she could vote early with absolutely no issue. “I had heard that they were going to try to deter us in any way possible because of the fact that we didn’t go Republican on the last election, when Trump didn’t win,” she told the Post. “To go in there and vote as easily as I did and to be treated with the respect that I knew I deserved as an American citizen — I was really thrown back.”

That’s the voice of someone who had been lied to — repeatedly and at great volume. Jamelle Bouie ended his Jim Crow column by saying, “Put a little differently, the thing about Jim Crow is that it wasn’t ‘Jim Crow’ until, one day, it was.”

In this case, it’s a different dynamic: The Georgia voting law was supposedly Jim Crow until it wasn’t — and then no one cared.

Article content courtesy of Rich Lowry at the National Review on May 23, 2022.

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