‘They’re trying to change the rules without public input, and outside the public’s view’
Today, two special subcommittees of the Georgia Senate Committee on Ethics acted on legislation that would add new barriers to voting. The subcommittee meetings were held with little public notice, at 7:00 in the morning, and without video streaming.
Statement of Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia
Some advice for the Senate Committee on Ethics: if you’re not willing to do something in the full light of public view – you shouldn’t do it.
Georgians expect and deserve to know what our elected officials are doing, and we should be given the chance to weigh in – particularly when it comes to changing election laws.
But this morning’s meetings of the two special subcommittees were designed to be far outside public view. They were held simultaneously, starting at 7am, after being cancelled and rescheduled late Monday night. They were held in rooms wired for video streaming – which would have allowed the public to see what happened – but the equipment was turned off. At least one of the meeting rooms had a sign on the door limiting the number of people who would be allowed inside to 15.
The subcommittees were doing what was supposed to be ‘the people’s business.’ Yet the public was disinvited.
All the bills the subcommittees were discussing would create barriers to voting.
Voting is the foundation of our government ‘by the people.’ It is how we, the people, have our voices heard and select our government representatives.
This morning, some of the people who are supposed to represent us intentionally left us in the dark, instead.
The bills considered this morning would undermine the system of elections established by a Republican Legislature and a Republican Governor back in 2005. But during both the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoffs, Georgia’s voters used that Republican-crafted system to elect Democratic candidates – so now the Legislature is trying to change the rules again.
And they’re trying to change the rules without public input, and outside the public’s view.
Georgia’s legislators – including the members of the Senate Committee on Ethics and its special subcommittees – are supposed to work for us, the people of Georgia.
Instead, they’re approving legislation that would make it harder for us to vote. The bill that created our current elections system was sufficiently burdensome that leaders of the state Legislative Black Caucus compared it to Jim Crow-era methods of disenfranchisement, like the poll tax or the literacy test.
Fifteen years later, our legislators are adding even more barriers to keep us from voting. Who we elect is supposed to be our choice — the voters’ choice — not decided for us by the imposition of new limits on our ability to vote.
Georgia’s voters need to keep a watchful eye on these bills — and a watchful eye on the integrity of our elected officials.
Going forward, our elected officials should ensure transparency and make certain that ‘We the People’ can be a part of the process. Changing the rules about voting is, by definition, the people’s business. Closing us out of the process indicates contempt for the people our elected officials are supposed to serve.
Read yesterday’s release: Anti-Voter Bills are ‘steamrolling through the legislative process’ here.