Reports of democracy’s death have been greatly exaggerated
George Williams (“Trump’s legacy: a wounded democracy”, 12/11) is surely right that one of the purposes of the new Georgia election law is to send a signal to the Republican base that Georgia Republicans take Donald Trump’s claims about electoral fraud seriously, and it therefore undermines democracy in some sense. But it is worth noting that even the most controversial elements of the law are not necessarily controversial in other countries or states, including states controlled by Democrats.
For example, New Jersey recently passed a law limiting early voting to nine days and only requiring some polling locations to be open before election day. New York had no early voting at all until last year, when it was introduced in response to the pandemic. Six states including Connecticut and New Hampshire still make no provision for in-person, early voting.
In comparison, the Georgia law mandates that precincts hold at least 17 days of early voting and, in codifying new opportunities to vote early or absentee in response to the pandemic, arguably expands voting access for most people in the state.
As for voter ID, many democratic countries require it in some form, including Canada, France, Germany and Sweden. And while people on both sides of US politics tend to assume, Republicans more implicitly, that voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities and restrict Democratic turnout, studies of the subject have produced mixed results. Controlling for possible errors and reviewing these studies for The Conversation in 2019, Ben Pryor, James Davis and Rebekah Herrick, researchers at Oklahoma State University, concluded that “strict ID laws do not appear to negatively affect minority voters”. John Sexton, Centennial Park, NSW