Long lines and other issues have riddled Georgia’s disastrous primary election. The election wasn’t just hampered by a long list of problems – it has also left thousands of voters without the ability to cast their votes. Experts are already saying the mess that happened during the Georgia primary election could severely damage the credibility of our electoral system.
Other states are learning from the mistakes made by Georgia and taking active steps towards avoiding a repeat. Representatives in various states, including Rep. Dennis Bonnen from Texas, are proposing new laws to avoid similar problems from happening in their states. It is interesting to see how these new regulations will affect the elections as we go deeper into 2020.
The Georgia Issue
Long lines and absentee ballots that didn’t get delivered were the two main issues that surfaced during the Georgia primary. These two issues, however, were just the beginning. Upon closer inspection, it is easy to identify underlying problems that affected voters as well as the system itself in a deeper, more harmful way.
Long lines were very common during the Georgia primary election. Voters had to wait for hours to cast their votes. One voter stayed in line for four hours before finding out that he couldn’t vote; the system simply said that he had already cast his vote and couldn’t cast another one. There is a good reason for that too.
That same voter asked for an absentee ballot earlier in the election cycle. Unfortunately, the ballot never reached him, and he was unable to cast a vote. Thinking that he could still vote by coming to the poll directly, he was disappointed by the fact that the missing absentee ballot had cost him his voting right.
A more systemic issue could be the cause of this enormous mess. Democrats are accusing Republicans of deliberate voter suppression tactics, and there are some probable reasons why the accusation was launched.
A Sign of What to Come
Dennis Bonnen designation as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives means he is a credible source to talk to regarding the Georgia primary election problem. Speaker Bonnen was quoted saying that the long list of issues that plagued Georgia’s primary election was a sign of what to expect in other states.
He says the government needs to take immediate steps to rectify the issues, or they will harm the general election as well. You can access the Dennis Bonnen recording on his website, in which he encouraged other state lawmakers to strengthen their election laws.
Rep Dennis Bonnen has also been actively sharing information about how citizens can avoid facing similar difficulties, including encouraging voters to schedule their trip to the polls early and actively seek information about the November election.
At the same time, Dennis Bonnen wife was also helping her husband spread awareness about the importance of voting. Speaker Bonnen and his wife are huge proponents of democracy and have been warning everyone about how COVID-19 could affect the election in 2020.
It is difficult not to agree with Rep Dennis Bonnen from Texas. The problems faced by Georgia are problems that the state will also face in the national election if the local and state governments don’t take active steps to solve them. The best time to start solving these problems is right now, with the national election still a few months away.
Similar Problems in Other States
Other states hosting primary elections have also faced several issues. Long lines are the most common issue recorded, with voters being forced to wait for hours before they can cast a vote. This is due to the reduced number of polling centers and sites, which means voters have to travel farther and wait longer to cast their votes.
Increasing the number of polls to facilitate voters doesn’t always help either. It is certainly not easy to open new polling locations due to Coronavirus, and the ones that do open may not be able to follow strict health and safety guidelines because of the high voter turnout. This is a problem that requires a more creative solution.
At the same time, absentee ballots and mail-in votes are still being debated as a possible solution. Some states prefer to encourage absentee ballots, but others are worried about potential election frauds that could cause additional problems. After all, mail-in ballots are easier to fake and can be potentially misused.
In Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, absentee ballots went missing entirely. Georgia and Nevada were also dealing with confusion. There were not enough announcements and information about how, when, and where to vote. Experts are already questioning whether local and state governments can fix these issues before November.
A System on Edge
If these past problems tell you something, it’s the fact that our election system does not operate well under pressure. With the Coronavirus and the way we have tried to accelerate the opening of our economy recently, asking people to vote directly may not be the best way to go after all. At the very least, the voting system isn’t ready for such a spike.
The same is true with absentee ballots. The delivery system needs an immediate fix so that ballots can be received and accounted for in a legitimate and credible way. Regulations regarding absentee ballots and information about how voters can take advantage of remote voting to stay safe must also be made clearer before the November election.
Polling site consolidation needs to stop. It is not possible to provide voters with a safe environment for voting when three to four polling sites are have been condensed into one. It is also impossible to choose a location that every voter can reach more easily when sites are consolidated; long lines are certainly inevitable this way. More sites need to stay open, but additional safety measures are also required.
There is also the need for better election security in general. The Trump administration is reluctant to provide help regarding the security of voting machines, but the House of Representatives passed a bill that provides states with the financial and technical support that they need to secure their own election. What’s missing is an action plan for implementing the pre-allocated funds.
Last but not least, there is a need for transparency. It is not only up to the government to distribute information about voting and the general election. The media, communities, and other stakeholders must also play an active role in spreading vital information. Better communications will result in a smoother election in general.
All Hands On Deck
That last part about how this is not only the responsibility of the government is actually very important. While local governments and lawmakers are responsible for hosting a fair, safe, and successful election across the nation, it is also up to other stakeholders like voters and communities to support the process.
Speaker Bonnen stated that everyone must fight for the future of our democracy. For the general election to be successful and remain a credible process for electing leaders, the elections across the nation must be organized in a better way. That’s how you guarantee a smooth transfer of power and a better future for us all.