Reposted from revcom.us
REVCOM.US EDITOR’S NOTE:
Editors’ Note: Last week we reported some of what was involved in the new law passed in Georgia that restricts the access of voters to the polls. We showed how the laws effectively target Black people and other people of color. This law is part of a whole host of proposed laws—over 360 at last count, in 47 states—designed to prevent Black people, as well as other oppressed nationality people, from voting. It is part of a major fascist move to further lock in a white supremacist advantage in the electoral laws as they stand.1 And that in turn is part of a major move to cast Black people back to the days of Jim Crow segregation with very few legal rights at all.
Over the past week, there have been two further developments. First, more has come to light on just how harsh and racist this Georgia law actually is. Second, spurred by major Black business figures, a number of corporations—including Coca-Cola, Delta, Dell Computers, and others—have come out against these laws, and Major League Baseball has moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta. These forces, from their own interests, oppose such drastic backward changes—including opposition to such naked and openly regressive white supremacy, the “perception” and “brand reputation” of such companies, the morale of their multinational employees, and potential pressure from the Democrats.
The warning in Bob Avakian’s New Year’s Statement, A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation of All Humanity, resonates where he states that in the current situation, “despite the Trump/Pence regime’s loss in the election, the forces of fascism are still in many ways strengthened, and the opposition to this has remained much too passive and reliant on the terms set by the Democratic Party.” This is a situation which needs close watching, and firm opposition.
On March 25, the Republi-fascists’ war against voting by oppressed nationality people of color took a major leap as Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a 98-page bill that throws multiple new obstacles in the way of Black, Brown, and poor voters—on top of obstacles they already face. The objective is to ensure Republi-fascist control of the state, to guarantee that Georgia will “vote Republican” in congressional and presidential elections to come, regardless of what the majority of people want, and to reduce Black people to second-class citizenship stripping them of fundamental rights.
Since revcom.us posted this alert, further exposure has come out about just how blatantly fascist and white supremacist this voter suppression bill is, and important opposition to it has emerged.
An April 2 in-depth analysis of Georgia’s new voting law by the New York Times (What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does) “identified 16 key provisions that will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers.”
The provisions the Times documented—all of which disproportionately impact Black and other people of color—include:
- The time voters have to request absentee ballots—which 1.3 million voters used in the last election—has been cut in half, from six to three months.
- People will face strict ID requirements for absentee ballots rather than just having to sign their names.
- The number of drop boxes for absentee ballots has been slashed—in urban Fulton County (where Atlanta is) from 94 to 23—and their hours have been cut.
- It’s now illegal for election officials to mail out absentee ballots to all registered voters.
- Mobile voting centers such as converted RVs are essentially banned; in the 2020 election, 11,200 people in Fulton County voted at them in churches, parks and libraries.
- Strict rules on early voting hours will likely cut access for people who work during the day or don’t have flexible schedules.
- It’s now harder to vote if you go to the wrong polling place, perhaps because yours was closed down (between 2012 and 2018, Georgia shut down 214 voting precincts).
- Vote counting will now take longer, potentially giving Republi-fascists more time to spread lies and whip up thugs to try and steal elections.
And, as we reported previously, Georgia’s bill:
- creates long voter lines, then criminalizes distributing food or water to people waiting in those lines
- “allows any Georgian to challenge the voting rights of as many individuals as they want—a potential field day for white supremacists, a potential gauntlet of intimidation for Black people and other people of color”
- “most ominously, the bill empowers the fascist-controlled legislature to appoint (or fire) the majority of the state election board, and to suspend local election officials. This means that the legislature can step in and “recount” (i.e., flip) any election result that doesn’t go ‘their way.’”
The Republi-fascists have justified these assaults by the big lie of massive voter fraud in the last election, but the various provisions the NY Times cites are blatant, naked efforts to make it harder for oppressed and other people living in urban and suburban counties which lean to the Democrats to vote—not prevent fraud. And they aim to give legislatures—now dominated by Republi-fascists—and other officials greater power to step in and determine the outcome no matter how people vote.
This is a brazen assertion of a fascist movement and program—growing out of and continuing the kinds of efforts the Trump-led fascist movement used to bully legislators and officials in Georgia and other states into overturning the November 2020 election.2
Growing Outrage and Protest
There have been growing and significant protests against Georgia’s new law. Two lawsuits have been filed against it spearheaded by the NAACP and other legal groups. After activists demanded action and 72 prominent Black corporate executives took out a full-page ad in the New York Times (“Memo to Corporate America: The Fierce Urgency Is Now”), Coca-Cola and Delta, both headquartered in Georgia, condemned the Georgia law. Heads of other major corporations, including Cisco, Microsoft, Blackrock, and Citibank, have done so as well.
Then, on Friday, April 2, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it was pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s action, a move supported by President Biden.3
The Fascists Are Still Moving
In the past, such massive outcries and actions by powerful corporations have forced states to reverse some of the measures the fascist Republicans have attempted to force through. For instance, in 2015, the state of Indiana under then Gov. Mike Pence was forced to amend a “religious liberty” measure that had legalized bigotry against LGBTQ people after organizations like Apple, SalesForce, Suburu, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) threatened to boycott the state. In 2017, North Carolina reversed its “bathroom ban” on transgender people after the National Basketball Association and the NCAA moved major events out.
Yet today, the Republi-fascists show no signs of backing down (as Democrats are reportedly divided over how to and to what degree to fight to protect voting rights4).
Georgia’s Republican governor Kemp denounced MLB’s decision and is vowing to fight on.
Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated Texas state Senate just passed a sweeping voter suppression bill outlawing drive-through voting, cutting early voting hours, and preventing election officials from sending mail-in ballot applications even to qualified voters.
A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice “finds Republican state lawmakers have now introduced 361 bills to restrict voting rights across 47 states. Restrictive bills are now moving through legislatures in 24 states, and 29 bills have already been passed by at least one chamber of statehouses.”5
All this underscores the grave danger we face and the urgency of acting! As we wrote on March 29:
More fundamentally, as Bob Avakian shows in his “New Year’s Statement, A New Year, The Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity” and elsewhere (go here and here), “The reality is that white supremacy is built into this system of capitalism-imperialism, and neither of these ruling class parties could put an end to this, even if they wanted to.” And he goes deeply into the changes over the past 75 years internationally and within this country that have led to the dire situation today.
In that context, the attack on the voting rights of oppressed nationality people—Black people and other people of color—is part of a whole offensive that not only aims to re-impose the most suffocating and horrific forms of white supremacy, but has a definite genocidal thrust to it. The situation is urgent.
The defense of fundamental rights MUST be taken up in the days and months to come, and those who get the real stakes and the real sources of all this must do so boldly putting forward, fighting for and organizing people around the stand that only revolution can deal with this, once and for all.
1. The Electoral College system, under which U.S. presidents are elected, gives greatly weighted value to the sparsely populated, more rural states—which are predominantly white—because each state gets three votes in the Electoral College regardless of its population (any additional votes are proportional to population). And Republican-dominated state legislatures frequently engage in gerrymandering—drawing congressional and state legislature districts in ways that isolate and minimize the impact of non-white voters—which can then only be challenged through a protracted battle in the courts, which may or may not overturn these plans. In turn, this has made it easier for these state governments to pass voter ID requirements and other discriminatory laws, furthering their dominance. [back]
2. While these measures are clearly intended to suppress votes by Black and other oppressed peoples and in Democratic-leaning areas, we are still investigating the ultimate impact of this. [back]
3. The New York Times reported, “The All-Star Game and its week of festivities were set to include celebrations of the legacy of the Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron, a civil rights icon who died earlier this year. But by Friday, [MLB head] Manfred said, he had concluded that moving the game and baseball’s annual draft out of Georgia were “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.” New York Times, April 3. [back]
4. See Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Pushing Through Voting Rights Bill, New York Times, March 30. [back]
5. Democracy Now!, April 2. [back]