Our decisions, the laws we pass, carry the weight of authority, but only when it’s with the consent of the governed.
And that consent is only given when the people have faith that an election was fair and fairly won.
Some of you may think it is sour grapes or whining over the results of the last election. Even if you think the machines can’t be hacked and the votes were fairly counted, we still need the people of Georgia to believe in the process — and right now they are unconvinced.
Those were the words I gave on the floor of the Georgia Senate on March 8 in support of taking the state a few steps closer towards election security.
I am not embarrassed to say that I committed plagiarism with that speech.
Democrat Senator Elena Parent of Atlanta made the exact same plea on March 13, 2019, about the need for election security after Stacey Abrams lost her bid to become Georgia’s governor.
I used Parent’s exact speech from almost two years ago when she argued the voting system was illegitimate and endangered the voting rights of Georgians. The Senate Minority Leader and a host of other Democrats also said we needed a thorough review of the election process for the security of Georgia voters.
Today, Georgia Republicans in the House and Senate are being lambasted by the media, Abrams’ political activism groups and some Georgia corporate leaders for allegedly “suppressing” Georgia voters for efforts to clean up an obviously broken election system.
That is the hypocrisy of this. It’s not OK to proceed with a flawed election system when your candidate loses, but it is fine when a much-maligned President Trump is removed from office.
Except for a few outliers, there really is a history of both parties calling for significant election security changes and reform. It’s just that the timing is off depending on who won the last go around. Even the federal courts knew we were going into the 2020 election with a flawed system.
Last October, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled just three weeks prior to the Nov. 3 election that she had serious concerns with the Dominion voting system but declined to interfere so close to the vote as it was Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s job to secure the vote.
Currently the Georgia Legislature is considering bills to eliminate no-excuse absentee ballots, ban private money given to local election boards, regulate the use of drop boxes, require an ID to vote absentee and bring more accountability to the Secretary of State, among a host of other measures to bring more security and accuracy to the Georgia vote.
A thorough review of the Dominion system should certainly come next – particularly when voters from both sides of the aisle questioned its vulnerabilities.
“The voter’s job is to vote,” Parent said in 2019 on the floor of the Senate. “The voter’s job is not to have to worry about the accuracy of the (voting) machine.”
It’s really an alternate universe when I repeat the exact same words as the Democrats did less than two years ago, and my GOP colleagues and I are accused of inciting violence and hatred.
My only regret is it took this long to answer the Democrats’ call to thoroughly and completely analyze our election system.
With that in mind, I agree with my colleague state Sen. Sally Harrell, D-Dunwoody, who told the Georgia Senate on March 13, 2019: “The trust in our electoral system is the bedrock of our democracy. Without trust our democracy fails.”
Let’s all drop the hypocrisy, posturing and partisanship and start rebuilding trust by moving forth with honest review of our election system and enact these first voter security measures. Without it there is no governing.
Matt Brass, a Republican state Senator from Newnan, represents Coweta, Heard and portions of Troup, Carroll and Fulton counties in the Georgia Senate.