MLB has now chosen a replacement city, and its critics are trying too hard to make the attack work.
The All Star Game will be in Denver, and some on the right quickly noted that Colorado has a voter ID law. Voter ID was part of Georgia’s proposal too, they noted. Colorado also has two weeks of early voting, while Georgia will still have 17 days.
The reality is much more nuanced. When it comes to picking a state that makes voting accessible — and provably so — it’s very difficult to do much better than Colorado.
First, the voter ID law. Colorado does have one. But it’s not as stringent as many critics have suggested or as stringent as both what Georgia has and will have.
“Colorado requires voter ID to vote in person — either a driver’s license, an IRS issued ID card, a valid passport, or a valid employee card with a photo,” said Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “@MLB better be ready to explain why this is more acceptable than Georgia after that absurd political statement.”
It’s not really that difficult to explain, though. Colorado has what the National Conference of State Legislatures calls a “non-strict” voter ID law for in-person early voting. Voters can produce a number of different types of ID, including ones without photos. And if they don’t have ID, they can vote via provisional ballot, at which time elections officials are charged with verifying their eligibility.
Georgia’s in-person ID requirement, by contrast, is a “strict” law, requiring photo ID. If a voter doesn’t have one, they can cast a provisional ballot, but they still have to produce a photo ID to a county registrar within three days.
But this is also somewhat apples-to-oranges. The voter ID law at-issue in Georgia isn’t for in-person voting; it’s for mail-in voting. Georgia is going to require a driver’s license number, social security number or other ID on absentee ballots — provisions which some allege may disenfranchise Black voters. Colorado sometimes requires ID to vote by mail, but only when someone casts a mail ballot for the first time, and again the list of acceptable IDs is significantly broader.
The comparison between Colorado’s in-person ID requirement and Georgia’s new absentee requirement mostly falls short, though for one main reason: Colorado conducts its elections almost entirely by mail. All registered voters receive absentee ballots automatically, and as many as 99 percent of people who vote use that option.
This also plays into the comparison between the number of in-person early voting days in each state. Yes, Colorado has slightly fewer than Georgia will have. But given how few people employ that option and how accessible mail-in voting is, it’s incontrovertible that it’s easier to vote in Colorado.
Colorado has regularly been hailed as a beacon of voting laws. Not only does it routinely rank among the states with the highest turnout — it was nearly 87 percent of registered voters (and 75.5 percent of eligible voters) in 2020 — but it also has one of the safest systems in the country, if not the safest. Turnout depends on a lot of things, including voter interest, but it’s difficult to argue that a state that ranked No. 2 in turnout in 2020, even as many other states expanded their mail-in voting, is somehow comparable to a state with significantly lower turnout that is adding restrictions.
The thing about these laws is that it’s easy to cherry-pick particular provisions that make your case. And that’s clearly been happening in recent days, particularly given the corporate backlash from MLB and large Georgia-based employers like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines. But doing so often glosses over plenty of complexities and ignores other, more controversial aspects of the bill.
It also ignores the stated justifications for many of these proposed laws — that they are meant to address concerns about election legitimacy — which is effectively an outgrowth of former president Donald Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him via massive voter fraud. Georgia also scrapped some even-more controversial restrictions that had passed in the state House and the state Senate, including limiting Sunday early voting (which is big for Black churches) and getting rid of no-excuse absentee balloting. Republicans have turned to arguing that this is about streamlining the process rather than restricting the vote, but many of their efforts and comments belie that.
It’s true that many states, including blue ones, have provisions that are similar to the ones in Georgia’s new law. There is a valid debate about just how restrictive the watered-down Georgia bill is and whether it’s worthy of the corporate backlash. But those other states haven’t moved to add new restrictions using a disinformation campaign as predicate. And to claim Colorado is somehow similar to Georgia when it comes to ease-of-voting just isn’t a serious allegation.