All eyes are on Georgia at present, more specifically on the absurdity of the reactions to a new voting law, far less on the specifics of the law itself. Colorado, due at least in part to a level of marketing savvy, is a happy beneficiary of the absurdity.
Nobody, it seems, has wasted a great deal of time actually reading the bill they are so scandalized over. Certainly not the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Robert Manfred, who earlier this week reassigned the league’s All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, citing objection to Georgia’s new voting law without delineating what exactly was objectionable. Nor, for that matter, the president of the United States, who made some rather blatant factual errors, evocative of his immediate predecessor, in railing against the bill.
Granted, the president of the United States ought to be spending his time on other things than digesting individual state voting bills. Still, one would expect that there would be someone on his staff that would be charged with the task of precluding embarrassment. That position has been open for some years now.
Irony, confusion, and contradiction cloaks the entire issue, starting with the gratuitous outrage over what is, by every responsible and objective analysis, a rather mundane and innocuous elections clean-up bill. Among other things, it keeps Georgia as one of 34 states to allow no-excuse absentee voting, expands early voting by one weekend day, and codifies the use of ballot drop-boxes. It replaces the dubiously subjective signature-matching requirement for absentee ballots with a more reasonable (and popular) requirement to provide a photo ID number (from a driver’s license or free state-issued ID, for example) and clarifies that polling places must remain open from at least 9am – 5pm (previous law merely said “normal business hours”), allowing them to remain open longer if needed. It strengthens anti-electioneering laws by prohibiting anyone from handing out money or gifts, including food and water, within 150 feet of a polling place — a poll worker can still hand out water to a parched voter waiting in line; which the bill aims to shorten by requiring polling places that saw waits of an hour or more to add voting equipment or split the precinct.
None of this approaches an attempt at mass disenfranchisement, let alone the malignant Bull Connor tactics of the Jim Crow south — one recalls with disgust the ribald, racist joke about “literacy” tests administered in Greek – which makes the nuclear reaction from the likes of some in corporate America and the MLB more than a little disconcerting. And in some cases, painfully ironic: Delta Airlines for instance, whose CEO issued a diatribe against the Georgia law, has long required photo ID to board their airplanes.
Ought not the civic sacrament of electing the government that makes and executes the laws of society require at least as much effort as getting on an airplane or ordering a drink?
One wonders too at the move by MLB to relocate the All-Star game. Now, I don’t watch a whole lot of baseball, but friends who are obsessed with the sport relate to me that this particular game is traditionally assigned as a reward to cities that invest deeply in their local teams and build new stadiums. Coors Field was built way back in 1996. And evidently, the team just traded away a player of considerable talent and promise for insufficient return. That suggests that the league is putting more stock in political optics than competitiveness. Sort of reminiscent of Trump’s temper tantrum after losing the election by moving Space Command to Alabama.
The motivation remains curious however. If the goal was to visit retribution to Georgia voters, why punish the one place in Georgia that tended to vote against the party that enacted the new law? Why punish Atlanta for what the rest of Georgia did?
Which is not to say that Denver does not have a great deal going for it in terms of hosting this game. It’s still a nice stadium, the central location is ideal, and the plethora of bars and restaurants within walking distance of it all puts points in our column. The economic benefits should be substantial, and ought to speed up the timeline for removing COVID-era restrictions. Gov. Polis and Mayor Hancock are to be commended for latching on to the opportunity, however it presented itself.
The whole episode is, of course, absurd, but at least Colorado gets to profit from the absurdity. Just remember to bring your photo ID when you pick up your tickets.