On Friday, Mother Jones reported the results of data showing a massive impact by the controversial Republican election bill in Georgia that restricts voting access.
"The law enacted in March 2021 shortened the time people have to request and return mail ballots, prohibited election officials from sending such applications to all voters, added new ID requirements, and dramatically curtailed the use of ballot drop boxes, among other changes," reported Ryan Little and Ari Berman. "During municipal elections in November, Georgia voters were 45 times more likely to have their mail ballot applications rejected — and ultimately not vote as a result — than in 2020. If that same rejection rate were extrapolated to the 2020 race, more than 38,000 votes would not have been cast in a presidential contest decided by just over 11,000 votes."
"In November 2021, Georgians who successfully obtained mail ballots were also twice as likely to have those ballots rejected once they were submitted compared to the previous year," continued the report. "If that were the case in 2020, about 31,000 fewer votes would have been cast in the presidential election."
And the effect could actually be understating it, the report noted, because voters in municipal off-year elections tend to be "super voters" keenly tuned into politics and familiar with the process, whereas voters who only turn out in midterm and especially presidential elections may be more marginal.
Other states that have enacted similar rollbacks of access to mail-in voting, like Texas, have seen similar results. In Travis County, home to the state capital of Austin, roughly half of the 700 mail-in ballot applications for the March primaries were rejected as a result of S.B. 1, the new Republican-backed election law that several Democratic lawmakers tried to block by fleeing the state last year.
All of this flies in the face of repeated GOP denials that they are doing anything to restrict voting.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has defended his repeated obstruction of voting rights bills by arguing they're unnecessary, saying, "States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever." Even Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who pushed back against former President Donald Trump's conspiracy theories about the election being stolen, has fiercely defended Georgia's new restrictions as "positive, solid, measured election reforms" and called those comparing it to Jim Crow "unfortunate and distasteful."