Years ago, I got to meet Gerard Butler, and our conversation humorously revolved around this particular movie. He told me about one time sitting next to a woman on a plane who was watching the movie 300, and the woman was oblivious to the fact she was sitting next to King Leonidas himself. Halfway through the movie, he says he tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention, pointed at himself on the screen, and pointed out it was him. We laughed at how people can be so focused on something that they’re clueless about what’s going on all around them.
Georgia House Bill 531 reminds me of that conversation, this movie, and the above scene in particular. So, let me take you on a quick journey through my cortex and see if you agree.
The 2020 election season saw record turnout which occurred in the middle of a pandemic. Many states made changes in their election laws for this election as well. There were some states who made substantive changes to make it easier for people to vote with confidence during the pandemic. There were also states that made cosmetic changes that would feed Trump’s ego giving him the idea of an election night victory. I believe the former helped with the record turnout while the latter ended up feeding into the Big Lie about election fraud.
A democracy with a lower case d is always a work in progress. As such, changes to laws are inevitable to reinforce and support the democratic principles of the country. The Georgia Assembly has decided to change laws in a knee jerk response to the Big Lie instead of reaffirming democratic principles that we’d expect.
Georgia is one of many states with a proven history and track record of voter suppression, so House Bill 531 should not be a surprise to anyone with a heartbeat. The modern Republican Party, denoted as GQP, has reduced itself to relying on suppressive tactics and fearmongering instead of providing a positive vision to garner support and votes. The full embrace of people such as Trump and Margorie Taylor Greene underscore the implicit surrender to fact and reality and a shift to suppression and fear.
Reading the text of HB531 gives you an idea of the intent of this legislation, and it’s not intended to support and feed democracy. The intent of this bill is to make it harder to cast a vote in the state of Georgia and punish those who try to make it easier for voters to express their constitutionally protected right. My initial response to the bill after speed reading the text could best be expressed by the clip at the top from the movie 300. If Georgia Republicans want to block out the sun on election day, I will vote in the shade. In other words, I will not let their suppression stop me from exercising my rights, and I hope to be an influence to bring others along with me in the shade.
We will have to wait for the final legislation to be passed and signed into law to determine how the fight will go, but you better believe that I’m already thinking of tactics. For example, there’s actual text that forbids people from handing out water or food to people waiting in line to vote. How f**ked up is that for a state within the United States to expressly forbid humanitarian actions to assist fellow Americans when we would bomb the ever loving sh*t out of any other country that dared do such a thing to its people.
To fight this, there’s multiple tactics that can be used. The law states that food/water cannot be passed out within 25 feet of a line of voters. To defeat that, all you need is a mobile relief station and the ability to measure the safe distance between the line of voters and the relief station. As long as you’re outside of that 25ft mark, there’s not a damn thing the state can do about your actions.
Another tactic that I’m considering is to pre-plan and construct election day kits that a person could carry with them on the day they choose to vote. This kit could be used anywhere by anyone either on election day itself or during the early voting period. Something as simple as a rolling insulated backpack full of snacks and beverages that could also convert to a chair or stool to provide a seat for long waits. As this could be provided in advance of the election and filled by the voter themselves, there’s no violation of the law at all. If these are provided as gifts during events like concerts or holiday celebrations, how can they be tied to voting?
There’s no reason for the Georgia GQP to change laws they wrote for themselves at the beginning of their reign in Georgia other than for their personal benefit as a party. The funny thing is the laws they’re so eager to change now were written in the early 2000s as a way to benefit them more for elections to help win against Democrats. Now that the Democratic Party is taking advantage of laws they wrote, the GQP wants to change them again to get a competitive advantage. The easier solution would be to present popular ideas that would garner the most votes. However, this is the party of DJT and MTG.
So, give it your best shot GA GQP. You claim to revere the Constitution and the freedom it protects. If you want to block out the sun on election day, I will fight you in the shade, me and my fellow fighters. You’re going to get exactly what you’re asking for.