Why conservatives should hate Georgia's voting restrictions

The voting restrictions in Georgia run afoul of at least three of these values, two of them conservative distinctives. First, making it more difficult for fellow Americans to vote — which many of these changes unquestionably do — is a violation of in-group loyalty in our project of self-governance. The law’s defenders insist the added difficulty is only meant to curtail fraud, but that’s a gloopy gush of brain-melt: Anyone determined to commit voter fraud, particularly on the massive scale imagined in Republican election theft fantasies, will not be deterred by a shorter absentee ballot request period and the like. Elderly people with limited tech and transport access or busy, working-class parents very well might be. The other defense, that the poor and minority voters expected to be most affected by the law are not in the “real Americans” in-group, is one of which I assume the GOP does not wish to avail itself.

The next value violated here is authority. This might be counterintuitive. Parts of this law expand state authority, so how can it violate the authority norm? The answer is that even though formal, legal authority expands, moral authority is diminished, and moral authority matters in popular government. We’ve seen in recent months the ill effects of large swaths of the public doubting the legitimacy of our elections, believing they are not merely beset by the usual human foibles but fundamentally corrupt. Unjustified and unjust voting restrictions will replicate that belief elsewhere in the public. This doesn’t conserve institutional strength but undermines it.

Perhaps most notable to me, however, is the third violated value: fairness. Unreasonable and needless voting restrictions are dishonorable.