Over the past two decades I’ve had the opportunity to be engaged in public policy, both in the public and private sector, and witnessed many changes in our society. Perhaps no greater change has occurred than the slow – but constant – erosion of the meaning and intent of the words and phrases that uphold the foundational institutions of our nation.
The assault on those basic freedoms and societal norms has been most aggressive and successful when it comes to voting.
For example, consider the word “absentee.” The Left would have you believe that to vote by absentee is the normal course of any election. The meaning of the word is to be absent, implying that the individual is unable to be present. Especially in the 2020 election, absentee voting was utilized to the largest extent as a matter of convenience – not because an individual was truly absent.
In our personal lives when we are absent there are consequences. We are not able be absent from work without excuses – and those must be the exception, not the rule.
Our students can’t – and shouldn’t – miss school without reasonable excuse, and the exceptions are almost always clear and consistent.
When we miss doctor appointments there are consequences. Delay or shirk your obligation to pay property, ad valorem, income tax and there are consequences. In short, we must meet our financial and personal life obligations in a timely and consistent manner.
I see voting as a right but even more so as an obligation. It is an obligation comes with the responsibility to willingly engage in this process through study and the personal desire to act.
But I prefer absenteeism to have justified, uniform excuses. No excuses is very different than no exceptions.
“Suppression” is another term that has taken on new and additional meaning in the media due to the narrative popularized by those on the left. According to Merriam-Webster, suppression is the conscious, intentional exclusion from a thought or activity. In terms of voting in Georgia, nothing could be further from the truth. Voters have ample opportunities to exercise their constitutional right – through early in person voting, vote by mail, and on election day. In fact, Georgia provides longer and more robust options than most states.
Efforts under the Gold Dome to secure the ballot box are not “suppression.” No one is attempting to exclude someone from voting. In fact, my hope is that our reform measures give all Georgians greater confidence in their vote and the election system as a whole.
We must focus on ensuring integrity at every part of elections process and to continue to find ways for secure, safe, convenient voting for all legal voters. When we diminish the importance of voting in safe, legal, open, secure and timely ways we create an environment for both apathy as well as divergence and doubt in different areas of our state. In my view, this effort is one of real suppression.
As a career community banker, I’ve seen firsthand the subtle change in why and how people justify pushing off or diminishing not meeting obligations, commitments or appointments.
I’ve also seen firsthand when people try to game the system and try to find ways to access other people’s funds and even identity. Our individual vote is important and valuable and therefore must be as protected as our children, loved ones, financial records, and health records. We must ensure that all votes are cast by a willing and engaged legal voter – no matter their party or candidate preference.
I have no issues with journalists holding all lawmakers accountable. However, it is unacceptable to allow one-sided coverage to ignore facts, assign blame and intent, and portray good-faith efforts by legislators to ensure integrity in our elections as suppression. This should not be partisan. It is our duty to reject this narrative and continue with the important work our constituents sent us here to complete.
I applaud state House Chairman Barry Fleming on his work and the Special Committee on Election Integrity’s introduction of HB 531. Please take time to read this bill and contact your representative to ensure we get our election laws to be fair, accessible, secure and transparent for all legal Georgia voters.
State Rep. Will Wade, R- Dawsonville, serves on the banks and banking, education, state planning and community affairs committees.