The proposed set of bills, including one still in committee threatening to end no-excuse absentee voting, comes on the heels of a triple loss for the Georgia GOP. Republicans lost the presidency and two U.S. Senate runoff races in which Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock unseated former Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. “Let’s make no mistake about what this bill is about,” Lucas said on the state Senate floor. “The election did not turn out the way you wanted it to turn out. That’s what it’s about.”
The Georgia Senate passed bills to start processing absentee ballots more than a week before Election Day, require records of voters to be updated within 30 days of the election, and prevent the public release of election results until all votes are in and the secretary of state posts the results on its website, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There’s also a bill pending in the state House threatening to ban early voting on Sundays, limit ballot drop boxes, require identification to vote by mail, and create new deadlines to request absentee ballots, the newspaper reported.
“You know from Perry to Byron, Georgia, there are folks who don’t have ways of transportation to get to places,” Lucas told Republicans. “They got to pay somebody.” The Macon legislator added that some residents don’t have access to a copy machine to get photocopies of their identification.
He said the bill tightening identification requirements on absentee voting reminds him of the presidential election of 1876 between Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden and former Republican President Rutherford Hayes. In that race, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina didn’t certify their electors, leaving Congress to come up with a negotiated bargain, Fox News host Bret Baier explained last month. At the time, he was educating Sen. Josh Hawley, who falsely claimed that Congress’ process of certifying presidential election results was legislators’ opportunity to voice their complaints about the results.
Lucas, who was sworn into the Georgia House of Representatives in 1975, detailed exactly how the process played out. He asked rhetorically, “If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how do you know where you’re going?” The Civil War ended in 1865 with federal troops deployed to southern states to protect the new rights, including voting rights, of formerly enslaved Black people. Troops remained in the South for more than a decade later until Hayes, who was losing the presidential race at the time, went to a Black man’s hotel in Washington, D.C., to “cut a deal with the southern states,” Lucas said.
Simply to win an election, Hayes promised to pull federal troops out of the last remaining Confederate state where they were deployed. He sacrificed safety and the voting rights of Black southerners for political gain. “And that’s when we had Jim Crow, and folks got lynched,” Lucas said. This time, to ensure GOP political victories in the future, Republicans are playing with the safety of Georgia residents looking to vote from home during the coronavirus pandemic. “Now I would be negligent in my duties representing the 26th senatorial district to go for this malarkey,” Lucas said.