On Thursday, March 25th, Georgia republicans passed Senate Bill 202. Under the guise of protecting election integrity from another “steal,” the Bill serves as a tool to make voting more difficult for some of Georgia’s most vulnerable communities. As outcry over republican efforts to suppress voting has grown, Major League Baseball became one of the first organizations to speak out, announcing just one day later that they would no longer be playing the MLB All-Star game in Atlanta. Yet, even as Georgia faces the threat of even greater financial repercussions in the weeks ahead, Texas legislators appear little less than overjoyed to subject their residents to the same negative consequences.
Already passed by the Texas senate, Bill 7 would restrict early voting opportunities and encourage Dwight Schrute-esque civilian policing of the polls. The Bill still must pass through the House of Representatives, but lest anything go awry, Texas republicans have been hard at work ensuring that voting regains its status as a pastime of the privileged. A staggering 49 voting restriction bills have been introduced in Texas, a number that leads the nation according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The loss of the MLB All-Star game represents a clear warning that voting restrictions, which many have compared to former Jim Crow legislation, will not be passed without consequence.
The fact of the matter is that legislators knew these decisions would hurt their constituents. They just don’t care.
Naturally, those in favor of legislation similar to Texas SB7 are fuming over the MLB’s decision to slap Georgia republicans on the wrist. Texas senator John Cornyn retweeted Senator Tommy Tuberville’s claim that MLB has “cowered to the will of the radical left,” while Senator Ted Cruz has quickly tried to hit back by calling for the end of MLB’s antitrust status.
In 2019, anti-abortion legislation in Georgia brought up conversations as to whether Georgia’s booming film industry would uproot and find a new space to call home. It should come as no surprise then that restrictive voting legislation, which is by most standards significantly less controversial than abortion (for example, a whopping 18 percent of Americans support Georgia’s new ruling against handing out water to those waiting in line at the polls) would result in even greater backlash.
Georgia republicans presumably anticipated these costs and ignored them in the name of political stubbornness (or, translated with greater transparency, racism). Anticipating these penalties on behalf of the Georgia legislature, former Georgia representative Stacey Abrams quickly made public appeals against boycotts in the hopes of protecting Georgians who will face the costs of these decisions. Yet, she also acknowledged the virtues of the decision and commended “the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out” against voter suppression.
Thanks to Georgia’s precedent, Texas republicans can no longer pretend that their political posturing won’t cost Texans, which is more than can be said of their unproven claims of voter fraud.
The question is: Are Texas’ republican leaders willing to sacrifice Texas jobs and other business opportunities, not to mention the disenfranchisement of the people of color that these bills are designed to target, to wage a war on a voting problem that doesn’t exist?
Given that a physical attack on the capitol in January wasn’t enough to reveal the dangers of their misinformation, one struggles to hold faith that “leaders” such as Cornyn and Cruz can put aside political agendas to protect the interests of the constituents they claim to represent. In this regard, the conscience of Texas’ republican senators shares one thing in common with the evidence of voter fraud: neither appears to exist.