We should demand honesty when our leaders talk of voting laws

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CLAY COUNTY – Voters in Keystone Heights and Orange Park will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 13, to elect two members each for their city and town councils.

Bobby Brown and Deirdre Murphy are running to fill Seat 3 and Robin Beaton and Stephen O. Hart are vying for Seat 5 in Keystone Heights. In Orange Park, John Hauber is running against Roland Mastandrea for Seat 3 and Virginia Hall is going against Susana Thompson for Seat 4.

And while they are smaller races compared to the national landscape, those elections will be conducted without controversy, confusion or doubt. Unlike what’s going on to our neighbor to the north, there isn’t anything misleading about Florida’s election laws.

Residents here have to show identification to vote. Poll workers compare signatures on voter registration cards and mail in ballots, and when they don’t match, they reach out to the voter for a clarification.

And just as they do in Georgia, campaigns here aren’t allowed to hand out food or water within 150 feet of the polling station, known as the “voting sanctuary,” but it doesn’t prevent poll workers or election supervisors from doing it. The reality is, campaigning has never been allowed in Georgia or Florida within 150 feet of the polls.

The misinformation coming with Georgia’s new voting law is disturbing. Lawmakers there expanded the number of days voters can cast a ballot. They better insured the integrity of the vote by doing what made Florida a model in voting proficiency – asking for an ID and comparing signatures. When President Joe Biden calls Georgia’s new voting laws “Jim Crow on steroids, “Jim Crow 2.0” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” he is doing the nation a disservice, and he’s purposely keeping everyone divided.

We should demand better of our leaders.

Jim Crow laws were created in 1865 to disenfranchise and remove the political and economic gains of Black voters in the South. Blacks were given literacy tests, and voting was restricted to property owners. Organizers also turned their backs on the violence – real or threatened – at the polls, as well as periodically purging voting rolls, which instantly stripped the registration of many Black voters. Former prisoners were banned from voting and some states charged a poll tax. Since Blacks were arrested disproportionately to whites in the late 1860s and in the 1900s, and many couldn’t afford to pay $25-$50 for the right to vote, it was another way to keep Blacks from voting.

America finally came to its senses with the Voting Rights Act in 1965. It allowed all registered voters, regardless of race, to cast a ballot.

Asking voters to provide an identification, either at the poll or with a mail-in ballot request, doesn’t remotely compare to the atrocities of Jim Crow. It’s a lie. Identification and bottled water have nothing to do with race.

And others, including leading publications with liberal agendas, agree.

USA Today’s editorial board wrote this week “No, Georgia’s new election law is not Jim Crow on steroids.” The Washington Post, one of the most-favorable newspapers for the Democrat Party, gave Biden four “Pinocchio’s” – it’s highest claim of dishonesty – for his inexcusable description of Georgia’s new laws.

Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game away from Atlanta as a protest, and the organization moved the mid-summer classic to Denver, where they oddly enough require voter identification. Also, in an effort to prevent fraud, fans who buy their baseball tickets at MLB.com are required to show an ID to pick up their tickets. Read that again and let it soak in.

Delta announced its opposition to the law, although that company requires riders to provide identification to board one of its airplanes. Delta needs an ID to get from Point A to Point B. Georgia wants to see an ID from voters who will decide the direction of a city, county, state and nation.

What’s apparently clear is the few who are making the most noise about the voting laws are the ones who haven’t read it. Misleading facts on the contrary are either dishonest or ignorant.

As a country, we can’t afford either.

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