“What Will Georgia’s Election Law Really Do? It’s important to look beyond the measure’s immediate effect on turnout.”

Key point from Jonathan Bernstein:

So even those aspects of the new law that are unlikely to help Republicans win elections may still amount to a retreat from practical political equality.

There’s more. Some provisions empower the state legislature to act as a sort of election-administrator-of-last-resort. It’s not clear how dangerous this really is. But anyone who paid attention during the 2020 election understands that many Republicans, from Trump on down, are prepared to exercise whatever authority they have to declare themselves winners, regardless of what voters want. The last thing we need are vague new election laws that invite parties to overturn election results by fiat.

Finally, even if the law’s defenders are correct that it doesn’t open any doors to flat-out undemocratic abuse, everyone agrees that it punishes Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by stripping his office of its authority. That alone makes the outrage over this law justified. Raffensperger was one of several Republicans who stood up to Trump’s bullying and did their job according to the law, which is partly why the 2020 elections were unusually well-administered. Republicans should be proud of Raffensperger. Instead, by punishing him, they’re sending a clear signal to party politicians: Only raw partisan warfare and constitutional hardball are welcome in today’s Republican Party.

So: Yes, it’s perfectly fine to talk about how the law might directly affect turnout and electoral outcomes. In fact, we need that sort of analysis. But anyone who limits their overall analysis of the law to the (yes, overhyped) immediate consequences of those provisions needs to step back and look at the bigger picture. 

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