Voter Suppression via Voter ID–Georgia Style

Lots of attention is being paid to the anticipated takeover of the Fulton County Supervisor of Elections by the Georgia State Republican Party and the inexcusable ban on providing water and food to voters who are waiting for hours to vote (can’t wait to hear how the white Evangelical pastors try to explain that one), that there is little chatter out there about the Voter ID provision, and what little we have seen is that “it’s really not so bad–everybody as to produce an ID, right?”

And because the Florida Legislature is hanging back, talking about DeSantis’ “You Can Drive a Car Through a Protest With Full Immunity Act” to see how this plays out in Georgia before tackling their own voter suppression bill, WUFF PAC feels the need to weigh in and say that, again, any process that might cause a voter to throw their hands in the air and opt out is voter suppression, and the Voter ID piece of the Georgia Bill is pretty bad.

What exactly does the bill say? Georgians who vote by mail will now be required to enclose a photocopy of the front and back of their driver’s license or State Voter ID, or fill in the ID number from such ID on the ballot itself. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s just what I could think of on a lazy Sunday afternoon:

  • Inserting three pieces of paper (ballot, front and back of license) could cause a ballot to require extra postage. Sure, some folks may have the skills to get both sides on one sheet of paper, but lots won’t.
  • Do you staple them together? Does that impact how the ballots feed through the readers? Visions of hanging chads dance in my head.
  • Having those envelopes be so fat could mean they won’t feed correctly through postage machines.
  • What if your ID was in effect when you made the copy, but has expired by the time it is opened by the Supervisor of Elections? You know they’re tossing that ballot.
  • I can walk down the street in downtown Jacksonville and make copies. Does everyone in Georgia have that kind of access to photocopy machines?

Okay, fair enough. Just write the number in. I’m not remotely sure how this is supposed to work on the SOE end–they are going to have to match each ballot to the DDS database (Department of Drivers Services–Georgia doesn’t have a DMV because of course it doesn’t), which sounds time-consuming and expensive as hell. A few more issues occur:

  • Expiration issues will certainly arise, ballots will be tossed.
  • Anyone who transposes two of the 9 digits of the id number will have their ballots tossed, times thousands.
  • Is that a 1 or a 7? Who puts a / through a zero, what does that even mean? SOE workers, who at election time are mostly volunteers. will be responsible for reading and interpreting the handwriting of thousands of strangers. At least they need no longer be amateur signature experts, but the burden on them has not decreased in any way.

I went to the State of Georgia website to see what a Georgia Driver’s License looked like, how easy it was to get a State ID other than a Driver’s license, and no one will be surprised to hear that it’s a hot mess. The State of Georgia Application for Voter Registration requires that the application for Voter Registration supply their GA Drivers License # “or GA State issued ID” number. So I went in search of the application for the State ID, and here’s what I found:

Okay, so far so good. But then there’s long menu of services,

It’s long and we won’t bore you with all of them, but guess what’s not there? Apply for a State Issued ID. So I searched for ID Card for voting. No results. A couple of variations, no results. It wasn’t until I got it exactly right: Voter ID, (and remember, that’s not what it’s called on the form) that the information popped up.

The good news? It’s free. The bad news, there is no on-line form, at least not one that I was able to find. Individuals that need these Voter IDs must be hauled by Public Transportation which probably works well in Atlanta and 3 other Metros, or by relatives and friends who do have access to cars, to a local DDS Office or County Supervisor’s office, equipped with the following:

Surely, I thought this couldn’t be right, because if you already have a Georgia Driver’s License, why would you need this alternate ID? Not to be daunted by an intentionally dense website–I’m a Floridian after all, and our Unemployment website was designed to kick applicants out up to 5 times before getting them benefits, I dove back in, and found this

Okay, so an expired license, having been employed by the State or a Veteran or Native American. A Passport? I’m sure there’s a Venn Diagram of urban Atlanta dwellers who require a passport but not a driver’s license, but it can’t be huge. Then there’s this third category:

Again with the passport, and Birth Certificates are neither easy nor cheap to obtain. A signed affidavit, for which there is no form, because every voter knows how to create that out of thin air apparently. And evidence that you are registered to vote, which is why you needed this form of ID in the first place.

Even without this last requirement, this is a pile of expensive paperwork to have to take to get an ID that you only need once every two years.

All of this process is designed to make Georgians who work more hours, have less time and fewer resources to waste, and who tend to be BIPOC, to throw their hands in the air and decide it’s just too hard. With luck, Stacey Abrams’ coalition will make sure that folks are provided with the resources they need (those affidavits for a start), and will make them see that that this is no time to give up the fight, but there is no reason any of this should be so hard.

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