tv Washington Journal Greg Bluestein CSPAN April 13, 2021 12:16am-12:48am EDT
quack -- quack -- >> a congressional tribute to officer evans at 11:00 a.m.. the house returned to cap the gestation -- to take up ledgers nation. at noon the senate is back to work on the nomination of deputy secretary of transportation. on cspan3 at 10:00 the trial of derek chauvin continues. on our website at 9:30 a.m.m the senate armed services committee looks at budgeting
requests. at 2 p.m., the senate appropriations subcommittee looks at the 2022 budget for the national science foundation. host: joining us from atlanta is greg bluestein, he covers politics for the atlanta journal constitution. thank you for being on c-span. guest: thank you for having me. host: let's talk about the new voting law signed by governor kemp. it would remove the secretary of state from that states election board, shorten the time to request absentee ballots, requiring voter ids for all mail-in ballots, ban food and water distribution within 25 feet of voters, although you are allowed to bring your own as you wait in line. it mandates one drop per county, 23 in the more populous counties.
it reduces the number of days allowed for absentee voting from 180 to 78. saturday and sunday voting requires two of them about. it also bans mobile voting centers such as rv's. why was this law put in place? guest: that is the question lawmakers and politicians and voters are grappling with right now in georgia because of the sharp fallout of this package of legislation. republicans say these are needed changes to restore the integrity and confidence in the vote in georgia, and that some of the changes were spurred from the 2018 election in georgia, needed political will to be passed. what democrats eagerly point out is that crisis of confidence was rooted in president donald trump's falsehoods about election fraud in georgia and other battleground states, and that that is what prompted this crisis of confidence.
there are some changes that are contingency driven but a lot of these changes are not, and amounts to more obstacles to vote for people who in the last election cycle embraced absentee voting, some of the newer technologies, methods to vote like ballot drop boxes, which will be severely limited under this new law. host: that led major league baseball to pull the all-star game from atlanta, now taking place at coors field in denver, colorado. pressure from companies based in georgia like delta and coca-cola. can you explain? guest: as the pressure mounted from activists, voting rights activists from democrats and other critics of the law, pressure focused on george's major corporations to speak out against these changes. in other states, too, but in
georgia, business groups play an outsized role in civic debates. in the last few years, coca-cola, all of these atlanta-based fortune 500 companies have had a seat at the table for major decisions not only involving their bottom line but infrastructure, reputational programs, religious liberty debate, tax hikes, all of those things they have played a seminal role. now you have activists saying voting rights is a fundamental issue for american democracy. where are you on this debate? many of them sidestepped it, many of them still are, mild statements about how they support fairness and integrity at the ballot box. but one week after governor kemp signed this action into law, delta and coca-cola, two of the city's namebrand corporate firms, both come out on the same day with very staunch statements
about these restrictions, which led of course to very staunch push back from governor kemp and other republicans saying they don't believe this allows to restricting voting rights, but secondly, where were you earlier on when you had the chance to speak out against this? there are dueling calls for boycotts. of course, that led major league baseball to move the all-star game. the stadium is actually in the. -- in the suburb. a big blow to the local economy there. it became a rallying cry for republicans around this election law, particularly around governor brian kemp, who is facing a tough election battle next year. host: we have our phone set
aside if you are a georgia resident, (202) 748-8003. taking a closer look at what is in the new georgia election law. independents. you can also join us online. the secretary of state, brad raffensperger, who became the center of controversy with former president trump critical of claims that there was election fraud across the state, he was taken off the election board, or his position was. why? guest: he will no longer have a boat, he will have a role, but not a vote. that is pushback on secretary of state raffensperger's stance on the elections that they were free and fair. he has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the election. of course, he oversaw the election, so he had an integral role in the 2020 election in georgia. he defied former president
trump's calls to find enough votes to overturn the election. he also infuriated many republicans for not promoting concerns about widespread election fraud, saying over and over again that there was no evidence of any sort of systemic irregularities in georgia's vote. so this is payback from republican lawmakers who will now have technically a majority. republicans already had a majority on the five-member board, but now the legislature. three of the five members of this legislature has a decisive say over election policies that come before the state elections board. of course, we have the 2022 election where the secretary of state position is up for grabs. if a democrat wins the seat, which is likely with how close the elections are getting, this
is also a hedge against a democratic secretary of state down the road. the legislature is likely to stay in republican hands the matter what happens in statewide offices in georgia. host: let's go to cindy in norwalk, connecticut. caller: thank you for taking my call. so, you listed a bunch of things that were in the election law, the whole debacle about the water. i am in connecticut. as you know, a very liberal state where it is almost wholly democratically run on the local level and statewide, but yet, we do not have early voting. i don't know if you see the hypocrisy in all of this. before trump was in office, these things could have been changed, and they were not. so that is a little suspect right there. campaigns are never allowed to approach people online.
at that point, the campaigning is over. you can donate water for the georgia voters. it just has to be given to the poll workers to be put out for general use. that is something that you guys always leave out. so it is a little just ingenuous. as far as early voting, i am for that. i think three months is an advance is a little too much. a lot can happen in three weeks, much less three months. when there are two strong candidates and i am undecided, debates are important. i don't think voting should take place before there are debates. i don't know why people are afraid of debates but they seem to be these days. i do agree with no excuse absentee balloting. i don't see why there is no middle ground, it is so partisan. host: let me leave it there. you put a couple of issues on
the table including early voting and weekend voting. under the law, are more days added in georgia to allow people to vote? guest: great question. before the general election, they are. there are counties already that offer, especially larger metro atlanta counties, that offer more we can voting. but under this law -- we are talking dozens of counties in georgia -- under this law, dozens of mostly smaller, rural counties will be required to add another day of weekend voting before the november election. the runoff is a different situation. we had a nine-week runoff for the senate in georgia come extended to january 5. under this new law -- this is another consensus issue -- the runoff was shortened to about four weeks. that also means less time for early voting, would also mean
that early voting wouldn't extend three weeks before the runoff, but one week. it shortens the amount of weekend and early voting for a runoff period. for a general election, it expands it in some cases. host: so much focus on the issue of water. if you are in line, you can drink water, you can bring water, and poll workers can offer you water. guest: in georgia -- and i have witnessed this many times. this is one of the most unfortunate things about covering politics in georgia, watching this happen. very dense, populous metro atlanta re-sinks, -- precincts, sometimes the lines will go on for five hours. some voters will bring lawn chairs to sit on. others are not prepared. outside groups will come and
bring pizza, hot chocolate, snacks two people waiting in line, to make sure they stay in line. critics of that worried -- and there is no evidence this is happening at any large-scale -- that electioneering is happening. as they are being offered cokes, hey, vote for x, y, z. so there are buffer zones set up 25 feet outside of the lines, but of course you can still bring your own food and water. outside groups cannot handed over to people directly waiting in line but they can give it to elections officials who can set up stands, water tables for people waiting in these long lines, to make sure they stay in those lines and don't give up their right to vote. host: we are taking an in-depth look at what is in the georgia voting law . our guest is greg bluestein of
the atlanta journal-constitution. caller: good morning. it is insulting to think that people cannot have an id. you have to have an idea to go to the doctor's office, to sign up for social programs. you need to have an id to buy sudafed in a drugstore. to say it is a hardship for people to have to prove their identity is insulting, too stupid to figure out how to get an id and identify themselves. host: on the issue of voter id, what is required under the georgia law? guest: this is a great question. under georgia law, you would be required to have a form of id to verify your id for absentee voters for the first time, those who vote mail-in. this was prompted by a surge of mail-in voting.
in 2019, we saw a couple hundred thousand. in 2020, more than a million. there has been no evidence of widespread fraud with these mail-in ballots but an ajc poll in january showed a broad majority of georgia voters do support some sort of verifying of id for people that vote by mail. that was 74% of georgia voters who like the idea. critics say it makes it harder for people who are in more rural areas, older people who are not as savvy technologically to get some form of identification if they don't have a driver's license. the state offers them in multiple ways, but there was the thought that a small number of people would be disenfranchised. overall, 90% of registered
voters have driver's licenses. this is in part because of georgia's automatic voter registration rules that says when you sign up for a driver's license, you opted in to register to vote. host: next up is gwen from birmingham, alabama. caller: good morning. so glad to see you back, steve. my favorite. i want to say this, if the voting was so intact in georgia, why would they want to come in and make all of these different voting laws? i really hate to always sound racial, but black people know. we have felt the stain of not being able to vote.
we have felt the sting of jellybeans in a jar. we know. we felt it. we know that black people came out in record numbers in georgia and voted. we know what it is. i really wish kemp would stop lying. what was so hurtful to me, that young black lady, she is a part of the legislature in georgia. she knocked on that door to be a part of what was going on with kemp. then they had a slave plantation picture behind them. how do you think that makes us feel? i am not saying all white people because we have some beautiful people in the world. if not for some of those white people, we would not be where we are today. this is the united states of america. we have to unite to be better. but kemp sitting there with all
of those white men with a slave plantation picture behind them, how do you think that makes us feel as black people? we know what this georgia law is, they don't want black people to vote. but we are going to go out and encourage our young people, people that don't have id. you are not going to stop us from voting. voting is very patriotic to black people. we are going to come out and vote. mr. bluestein, i think that they made a big mistake, i really do. host: thank you for the call. your response? guest: this is exactly what georgia democrats are saying, that this will only energize georgia democrats, people that want to come out in droves for senator raphael warnock who
is up for election. it is something we saw in the 2018 election. if you look at the race between stacey abrams and brian kemp, even though both of them were known for their stances on voting rights -- brian kemp being the secretary of state at the time in charge of georgia election policy, d.c. abrams as a national -- stacey abrams as a national voting rights advocate. it turned out to be that way in part because democrats realized, in talking about voting rights, they were concerned it could hamper turnout. it could also energize turnout from voters like we just heard. it is the foundational cornerstone right of democracy. if you tell people that there are no obstacles to vote, they will find other ways to make sure that they are heard. that is why you heard so much in
2020 about a plan to vote, multiple avenues to vote. if you have issues voting by mail, make sure you vote early. if you have issues voting early, make sure you vote on election day. those types of issues will end up energizing democrats. but remember, republicans are rallying around this as well. governor kemp has repeatedly been under fire from donald trump and his allies, and his standing seems improved with republicans right now because of his defense of this bill. it is having a railing on the right as well. host: we are talking with greg bluestein who covers politics for the atlanta journal-constitution, focusing on the georgia voting law. this on our twitter page. 36 states require some sort of voter id. also this from mary. i love how georgia republicans assume their voting rights will not come back to haunt them with their turnout.
jan says it's been pointed out that if they at polling places, the lines will not be as long. lizzie says, people know what went on in georgia during the presidential election. it was corrupt. george in atlanta. good morning. caller: yes, i would like to speak about, since 2005, georgia had the law that you can vote by ballot. the republicans put in place. all of a sudden, now, we are looking at the republican party getting mad because they lost the election. it amazes me that people across the country will talk about george's voting laws when they should mind their own business. georgia knows how to run their own elections, we have done it for hundreds of years. for someone to say that we don't know what we are doing, pay attention to your own state.
we are a state that will take care of itself. when our governor sits here and lets our president talk to him like a dog, lets our secretary of state being treated like a dog, i don't understand where we are going in this country. thank you. host: greg bluestein, your reaction? guest: this speaks doing issue that governor kemp faces, even though it feels like his standing has improved with republicans. former president trump has still vowed revenge on not just governor kemp but other state elected officials, including secretary of state brad raffensperger, for not heeding his calls for overturning the election in georgia. but we will see in the next few weeks in georgia is the beginnings of a pro-trump
republican ticket challenging sitting public and incumbents, who in trump world, feel like they didn't do enough to help his claims of election fraud. we could see a challenger to governor kemp this week. we already saw president trump endorse a challenger to raffensperger. last week, i reported that lieutenant governor jeff duncan, who is also in trump's crosshairs is not even running for election in part because he is disgusted with his own party's stance on election rules and also that he knows he will face a formidable republican challenger as well that could run with trump's endorsement but at least as a pro-trump candidate. you are seeing trump's influence continue not only on this election law, which voting rights advocates point out is rooted in his false claims of election fraud in georgia, but also his enduring political
influence in georgia is very strong in the republican party. host: let's get back to calls. betty is joining us in georgia. good morning. caller: good morning, how are you? host: where in georgia are you calling from? caller: i am in atlanta. on the voter id issue, i have a problem with the voter id, but in a lot of ruble areas, there are older people. you cannot get id without a birth certificate, you cannot get a birth certificate without a social security card. also, they would have to try to make a copy. how can they make a copy? it cost them to go somewhere, they don't have the technology. that is one of the issues there. another thing that needs to be addressed, why are they addressing the long lines in the heavily democratic areas?
if you have to stand in line 8, 10 hours, but only 30 minutes in other areas, that is an issue. i have one question, with the change of secretary of state to the border of the legislator, does that mean they can now overturn the election? host: to that point, greg bluestein? guest: let me answer the third one first, overturning the election. it doesn't mean overturning the election. republicans already have control of the state elections board. this would just give the republican legislature more control of the board. there is another law that allows the legislature to replace underperforming elections officials, and that is seen as direct scrutiny of fulton county, georgia's most populous county, also well-known for being plagued by election
problems over the last decade or two. what that means is you replace an elections official, cannot overturn the election results. those election officials have a lot of leeway over how certain ballots are counted. whether or not provisionals are counted. this is not an issue this year, but there was in previous elections, whether or not signatures on the ballots are mismatched and should be counted. episodes in 2018 where one suburban county rejected signature mismatches at a higher rate than others. those election officials have a large say in how those local matters are handled. in an election as close as we had in georgia last year, about 11,000 votes dividing trump and biden, that could come into play. when it comes to the long lines,
voters i talked to in georgia, in the june primary where you had eight-hour lines for early voting, there was finger-pointing between democrats, republicans, republicans. voters didn't care about that. they just wanted to vote. it is frustrating as a reporter to see voters bringing lawn chairs as an accessory to the ballot. that is why many are hoping that georgia can become an example to standardize all of this, standardize election laws, and pave the way for more voting machines, more ballot access in very congested populous districts, so that you don't have 6, 7, 8-hour lines. i don't know that you can eliminate lines but you can make sure there are more machines. a lot of these lines also have poorly trained all workers who
are doing their best, may not know how to use the voting machines, or technical glitches. one line i reported on, they didn't have the right parts for the computer. they didn't have enough provisional simple as that and they did not have enough provisional ballots for those waiting in line. i was also awestruck by the voters who said even if it takes all day, i am staying here to vote. not everyone can do that, of course, but i did interview voters who said if it takes eight hours, i will stay eight hours to vote. host: robert, you are next. caller: thanks for taking my call. a lot of people called and said people are too stupid to get an id -- people don't understand if somebody complains, you have to look into it. you have a president that acted like a crook, that wanted 11,000
votes. all of a sudden, certain places they may want to access the vote. when someone said they are stupid -- you have to look into things. you cannot just call people stupid. all of the sudden, [indiscernible] i think she should look into things and not call people stupid. look into things all of a sudden, the vote is a problem. people just generalized things, and people should know. when people complain about something, they are separate things but i think people should come together for the people that do not generalize things and look into things, all of the sudden the vote in certain places. host: thank you for the call. we will get a response. guest: i don't want to engage in
name-calling and the people that watch the show, who might work in ajcs, who are engaged do not need to worry about the new obstacles to voting because they are informed, but what voting rights advocates worry about is people that are not in tune, who would look to vote and the primary or the general election and don't realize there are new verification standards for voting by mail. there is a smaller window to vote by mail. all of these different changes, there is limited widespread use of ballot drop boxes. all of these changes we have been talking about have not filtered down to folks who were only marginally extended in georgia politics and will tune in closer to the election. that is a decent chunk of the population. that is the concern -- people in
remote areas who don't realize they need id verification. there are many ways for them to get that pit we are trying to promote those ways in our news coverage, showing people how they can sign up for free voter id, but still it is a new obstacle they have to overcome, not necessarily a hard one, but a new obstacle nonetheless they have to jump over in order to vote. host: the website is ajc.com. greg bluestein, his >> coming up the washington times were were talks about his reporting of security and a pro-public course wanted talks
about the new pbs frontline document american action about event january the. watch c-span's watch journal live at seven eastern at tuesday morning and be sure to point this session with calls, facebook, tech, and. >> coming up live on tuesday, the ceremonial arrival or for b illy evans who was killed last week. a tribute follows at 11 a.m. later the house returned to take up legislation to suspend its to medicare. the irs commissioner testifies the senate finance committee. at noon, the senate is back work on the nomination of the deputy secretary of