Despite passing an election security law last year that critics claimed was "voter suppression" and President Joe Biden compared to "Jim Crow," Georgia has seen record-breaking turnout for early voting.
According to data compiled by Georgia Votes, 539,297 people cast ballots in the state as of Tuesday, far outpacing the 182,684 votes by the same point during the 2018 midterm primary elections.
The numbers have even outstripped those of the 2020 presidential election by 156 percent, despite election officials at the time encouraging early and mail-in voting to decrease crowd size during the coronavirus pandemic.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday, "The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county election officials. As Secretary of State, I promised to strike a strong balance between access and security in our elections, and these numbers demonstrate that I kept that promise and that voters have confidence in Georgia’s elections."
During debate on the bill, Republicans argued that the Election Integrity Act of 2021 would both secure future elections in the state while making it easier to vote.
The bill implemented an ID requirement for absentee ballot requests and mandated three weeks of early voting, including availability on weekends.
President Joe Biden said when the bill was passed, "At a time when parts of our country are backsliding. The days of Jim Crow, passing laws that harken back to the era of poll taxes, when black people were made to guess how many beans — how many jellybeans in a jar, or count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap before they could cast their ballot."
Major League Baseball moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the law, claiming that the legislation restricted access to voting.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time, "I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft. Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support."
Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial Stacy Abrams, who still has not conceded her loss in the 2018 race, said at the time she was "proud" of the league's stance "on voting rights,"despite the businesses in Atlanta and their employees losing out on close to $90 million in revenue generated by the game.
She posted on Twitter, "Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression."
Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, two of the state's most well-known companies, both came out in opposition to the law.
Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey said at the time, "Voting is a foundational right in America, and we have long championed efforts to make it easier to vote. Throughout Georgia’s legislative session, we?provided feedback to?members of both?legislative chambers?and?political?parties,?opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting."
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, "The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy and those rights not only need to be protected but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner. After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong."
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