Free vs. fair, who’s right? ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

March 31, 2021

Understand more. Argue less.

Good morning. First, it became a swing state for the first time in a long time. Then, it was home to two crucial Senate runoffs in January. Now, we’re back in the Peach State to examine voting laws passed last week. The Left calls it suppression, the Right calls it fraud protection. Let's break it down.
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Georgia's Voting Laws

Jenna Gibson


Last Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a highly-contested overhaul of state election requirements into law. This comes amidst a nationwide wave of proposed Republican legislation that they say will ensure election integrity. During the 2020 election, Georgia received a record 1.3 million absentee ballots, inundating local elections officials and increasing Republican skepticism of election security.

Democrats have been quick to accuse the bill of suppressing minority and absentee voters. President Biden has already voiced his disapproval, calling the bill “an un-American law to deny people the right to vote.” Governor Kemp responded by saying, “it is obvious the president nor his handlers have actually read the bill.” 

Here’s what else you need to know.

The Facts

  • 2020 turnout. Compared to 2016, the 2020 election saw an increase in voter turnout in every single state, with nearly 60% of eligible voters participating. Some of the states with the most significant increases conducted the vote entirely or primarily by mail. (Pew)
  • What’s in the bill? The Georgia law necessitates a valid ID to request mail-in ballots, limits the number of ballot drop-boxes, gives the state legislatures more power over voting systems, and requires counties to certify elections in a shorter period of time. (BBC)
  • Food and drink. The bill also gathered lots of criticism for supposedly banning food and water for voters waiting in line. In actuality, the law prohibits outside activists from potentially influencing voters by handing out free refreshments, but doesn’t prevent voters from bringing their own food to drink. (AJC)
  • Republican-led. As of last Friday, 306 election reform bills have been introduced in 43 states, 89% of which were sponsored entirely or primarily by Republicans. (538)
  • Legal response. Three voting advocacy groups are suing Georgia officials over the new legislation. They claim that it unconstitutionally restricts voting rights for everyone and disproportionately disenfranchises Black voters, who make up 48% of the state’s electorate growth since 2000. (WSJ, Pew)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. These are not necessarily factual, but instead illustrate the coverage that solidifies each narrative. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article.

This week, the Left's narrative will appear first on mobile. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Left

The Right’s unsupported and continuous lies continue to further the suppression of Black and Latino voters. This bill is full of more unnecessary hoops that voters must jump through, put in place by Republican legislators who care more about winning elections than making them free and fair. This must immediately be corrected at the federal level.

Supporting Headlines

‘Destructive to a functional democracy’: Georgia passes vast restrictive voting law

Biden slams GOP vote-restriction bills as 'sick' and 'un-American' while Georgia moves to suppress the vote

Georgia GOP Goes All Out to Suppress Black Votes Amid MAGA Civil War

Narrative from the Right

The Left is undermining legislation that will increase confidence in our elections: the cornerstone of democracy. This new law doesn’t disenfranchise voters; it simply reinforces reasonable election protocols like voter identification. The Left comparing this bill to “Jim Crow,” as Joe Biden put it, is clearly pandering to minority voters.

Supporting Headlines

Leo Terrell slams Democrats for invoking Jim Crow to push voter laws: 'It's offensive'

75% of voters, 69% of black voters support voter ID laws: Everything you need to know about the Election integrity debate

Woke corporations try to blackmail Georgia for passing mild election security reforms

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news is civil! Here are two cases where traditionally biased news outlets reported with relative objectivity, conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

Kentucky legislature passes bipartisan bill setting rules for  absentee voting

There was pretty much zero transparency from the Left this week, but CNN highlighting a bill that contains some voting restrictions is a small start.

The Republican Attack on Voting Rights

Reason deviates from the Right's narrative that says the new voting legislation is entirely justified by highlighting the possible voter suppression it might cause.


What Does It All Mean?

Over the past week, you’ve probably been hearing different things about the Georgia voting laws. Depending on where you get your news, it might sound something like this...

  • If your news outlets lean Right, you see this bill as the culmination of a long and overdue effort to reinstate integrity and fairness in American elections. You feel that the disorganization of the 2020 election was painfully apparent, and measures must be put in place going forward. Besides, if the Democrats really won fair and square, shouldn’t they welcome increased election security?
  • If your news outlets lean Left, you feel this is just another underhanded and undemocratic effort by the GOP to restrict voter turnout and suppress minority voters. You’ve read about countless fraud claims that have been disproven, but still see Republicans championing “election integrity.” You feel that disenfranchisement is effectively a concession of defeat from the Right.

Partisan battles over election laws are nothing new. Republicans are trying to make up for the lack of election confidence from their base: only about 1 in 3 Republicans have trust in US elections as of January of 2021. While they’re enacting strict ID requirements to counter absentee voting fraud, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, from 2008-2018, those requirements had no impact on voter turnout based on race, gender, or party.

The high percentage of mail-in votes from Democrats was a hot topic after the November election. The Left asserts that legislation like the Georgia bill isn’t meant to fight fraud, but in effect, disenfranchise minority and absentee voters: the Left is hoping this message might energize their base. In December, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State announced that the state found no evidence of voter fraud after two full vote recounts. 

In response to over 300 proposed Republican-led election security bills across the country, Democrats have reintroduced the H.R. 1 bill in Congress, which would make elections nationally uniform and accessible through mandated early-voting and same-day registration. H.R. 1 has passed in the House but will have difficulty reaching the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate. 

No matter which side of the aisle, conducting a coordinated government through election cycles is a constant struggle: this is just the beginning of yet another fierce, partisan battle.

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What Else We're Following

  • More than 500 migrant children were packed into plastic-walled rooms built for 32 people, sitting inches apart on mats with foil blankets Tuesday at the largest US Customs and Border Protection holding facility for unaccompanied children. (AP News)
  • The World Health Organization released a report Tuesday detailing its review's findings into the origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. (USA Today)
  • Beyond roads and bridges, President Joe Biden is trying to redefine infrastructure not just as an investment in America (the place), but in its workers, families and people. (AP News)

Finally, some good news

New life at 6x. After massive wildfires, DroneSeed is replanting forests 6x faster than by hand using specially designed drones. (Good News Network)

Have a week filled with growth. See you next Wednesday!

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