* Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, a Republican, in the Washington Post…
The Democratic Party and national news media have been propagating for months the fiction that election reforms in more than 20 states, especially in Florida, Georgia and Texas, are racist efforts to restrict voting rights. President Biden last week encouraged this gross misrepresentation, denouncing the laws as “21st century Jim Crow” and demanding of Republicans, “Have you no shame?”
The only shamelessness at work here is that of Democrats and their media allies.
As an Illinois election official, I would like to explore how some of the widely attacked Florida and Georgia election measures, and those pending in Texas, hold up when compared with current law in Illinois, a heavily Democratic state.
* Ackerman starts with Georgia and the notorious ban on handing out drinking water at the polls. He claims that in Tazewell County, “if you’re not there to vote and you’re not an authorized person, you’ll be asked to leave,” even if you’re standing outside the 100-foot electioneering border.
But if Ackerman really does that, then he’s not following state law. I asked the governor’s office for a response to Ackerman’s op-ed…
This Republican election official seems to be deliberately misinterpreting the laws in Illinois. The recent laws passed in Georgia and Florida, as well as those pending in Texas, revitalize long-standing disenfranchisement of marginalized communities, specifically Black people and people of color. States justify these restrictive actions by claiming they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, which is, in reality, a figment of their imagination.
1. Georgia’s new law criminalizes offering food and water to voters waiting in line to vote, regardless of how long the line is. In Illinois, food and water can be provided to those more than 100 feet from the polling location.
• This Republican election official’s choice to prevent people from receiving water if they are thirsty is not one that is required by law, but is instead his own interpretation that runs the opposite of the law’s intention.
2. Florida’s new law requires voters to request vote-by-mail ballots every two years rather than every four years.
3. Texas is proposing to legally limit early voting hours, increase voter ID requirements and banning drive-thru voting and 24-hour policing places.
In contrast, Illinois is expanding access to the ballot box by:
1. Allowing election officials to create a permanent vote by mail registry
2. Allowing for optional drop-off boxes for ballots
3. Allowing for curbside voting
The administration welcomes ideas from local officials on ways to continue improving voter access and will continually work to ensure voters are able to exercise their rights in an easy and efficient manner.
* I think Ackerman does make a few good points about the oftentimes over the top reaction to some of this stuff, particularly among national reporters who don’t know the first thing about state laws, so it’s worth a full read.
But, the most important thing to remember is that the states in question claimed they were reversing or tightening up their laws to prevent fraud, but nobody could prove that the fraud actually existed. So, if they were trying to prevent an imaginary thing from happening, then one can justifiably conclude that their stated purpose was a lie, no matter how much one can nitpick.
Also, Illinois has clearly been going the opposite direction of those other states. The new option to be included in a permanent VBM registry is just one of them.