Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Georgia on the Nation’s Mind: 5 Essential Reads

Shortly after his re-election on December 6, 2022, Rev. Raphael Warnock discusses his political journey in a state known for its racist record of suppressing the black vote.

“I’m Georgia,” said Warnock. “A living example and embodiment of its history and its hope, its pain and promises, brutality and possibility.”

Warnock’s Senate campaign against his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, came as Georgia voters faced a series of new election law reforms deemed necessary by state lawmakers. But civil rights advocates portrayed the reforms as the latest iteration of suppression efforts targeted at black voters.

During his speech, Warnock was clear about his position.

Warnock said, “The fact that millions of Georgians endured hours in lines … that wrapped around buildings and continued for blocks, lines in the cold, lines in the rain, is certainly not a sign that that voter suppression does not exist.” “Instead, it’s proof that you guys won’t let your voices be silenced.”

As the campaign unfolded, The Conversation published several articles about the history of voting in Georgia and how race has played an important role in shaping the state’s election laws.

1. New Electoral Reforms

Georgia Republican lawmakers overhaul the state’s 2021 election laws — critics argue the target was black voters, not voter fraud as claimed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and other white conservative politicians.

Emory University political science professor Ricardo Donner details the embarrassing history and breaks down the key changes in the state’s new voting law, SB 202, which emerged at a time of growing black political power and the Republican Party’s unproven conspiracy theories on voter fraud.

Read more: Georgia GOP overhauls state election laws in 2021, and critics argue target was black voters, not voter fraud

2. Runoff polls generally produce better policies.

Despite its racist history, Georgia’s runoff voting process is not inherently racist, as shown by a 2022 campaign in which two black men are running against each other.

In fact, argues Josu Holzer, adjunct professor at Westminster College of Political Science, runoff produces better policies.

“This is because,” Holzer writes, “runoff elections often favor candidates who lean toward the center, and centrist candidates are expected to respect human rights and provide better representation to a large segment of the electorate.” seems more likely.”

Read more: A brief history of the Georgia runoff and how this year’s race between two black men is a sign of progress

3. National importance of Georgia

With Warnock’s victory, Democrats control the Senate with 51 of 100 seats and do not need Vice President Kamala Harris’ swing vote to break a tie and pass bills supporting their legislative agenda.

But as political science scholar Richard Hargie points out, the campaign is being seen as a further test of former President Donald Trump’s influence within the Republican Party and as an opportunity to “improve his Senate seat count ahead of a difficult election cycle in 2024.” was billed as “Opportunity”.

Read more: Georgia runoff election: Why the result matters so much to Biden and Trump

4. The cost of the second election round is

In Georgia, if no candidate receives 50% of the general election vote, a race is held between the top two candidates.

And those races are expensive, says political science professor John A. Tours writes.

Although final calculations for the 2022 runoff have not been completed, in 2020, at least $75 million will be spent on campaigns statewide.

Regardless of the expense, runoff elections have an effect on voter turnout, and not for the better.

Tures writes, “The only consistent trend is that runoff elections attracted fewer voters than earlier general elections.”

Read more: Georgia runoff elections are exciting, but costly for voters and democracy

5. Weak Popular Political Candidates

Besides race, another factor influenced the Georgia campaign: Walker’s celebrity status.

Political science scholar Richard T. Longoria points out that while celebrity candidates benefit from name recognition and media attention, they often lose their bids for public office.

Longoria writes, “They lose for the same reasons other candidates lose.” “If they take an unpopular political position, they lose. If they are never considered a serious candidate, they lose.”

Read more: Celebrities have an advantage in politics, but their advantages may not be outweighed by fundraising failures

Editor’s Note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation Archives.

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