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White House pushes back on conservative argument over Georgia, Colorado voting laws amid MLB dispute

Christopher Wilson
·Senior Writer
·5 min read
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A dispute over voting laws in Georgia and Colorado reached the White House briefing room Tuesday after Major League Baseball announced a new location for the All-Star Game.

Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the decision to relocate the Midsummer Classic from Atlanta to Denver as a protest against new voting laws in Georgia that will make it more difficult for many to vote.

“Is the White House concerned that Major League Baseball is moving their All-Star Game to Colorado, where voting regulations are very similar to Georgia?” Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked.

“Well, let me just refute the first point you made,” Psaki said, before noting that Colorado allows registration on Election Day and offers vote-by-mail to every eligible resident.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki listens during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki at the daily press briefing at the White House on Tuesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I think it’s important to remember the context here,” Psaki added. “The Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election; Georgia’s top Republican election officials have acknowledged that repeatedly in interviews. And ultimately, let me add one more thing: It’s up to Major League Baseball to determine where they’re holding their All-Star Game.”

Since MLB announced that it would be moving its All-Star Game to Denver in response to a suite of new voting laws in Georgia passed by Republicans following losses in the presidential election and two U.S. Senate races, conservatives have argued that Colorado already has voting laws on the books that are similar to the Peach State’s.

Voting rights groups say the new restrictions in Georgia will disproportionately affect the Black community, which helped power Democrats’ recent electoral success in the state. Georgia, which Joe Biden narrowly won in November, was one of the focuses of former President Donald Trump’s baseless accusation that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

Trump congratulated Georgians on their new laws in a statement, saying, “They learned from the travesty of the 2020 President Election, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner.”

After MLB announced that Denver would be hosting the All-Star Game, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., tweeted, “Georgia: Voter ID, 17 days of early voting. Colorado: Voter ID, 15 days of early voting. Atlanta is 51% Black. Denver is 9.2% Black. The @MLB is moving the #MLBAllStarGame out of ATL which has more day-of voting rights than CO? The Wokes are at it again, folks.”

The limited early voting period in Colorado is not meaningful in practice because most of the state — 94 percent in 2020 — votes by mail or via drop box. The state does require an ID when registering to vote for the first time, and for those voting in person. But Colorado allows for voters to use more than a dozen types of ID, such as student identification or Medicare and Medicaid cards. If they do not have an ID, they can cast a provisional ballot and officials can later verify their identity.

Demonstrators wear chains while holding a sit-in inside of the Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)
Demonstrators at a sit-in inside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on March 8 in opposition to H.B. 531. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

In contrast, Georgia law requires a photo ID to vote in person, and also some form of identification to cast a ballot by mail.

The vote-by-mail systems also differ widely in both states: In Colorado, every eligible voter receives a ballot in the mail, versus in Georgia where a voter must request it, and there are far more drop box locations in Colorado than in Georgia.

Under the new Peach State laws, a voter must provide a driver’s license number, a copy of a state identification card or a Social Security number each time they vote by mail. Colorado does not require ID for vote-by-mail after initial registration. The states also differ on voter registration, which is offered same day in Colorado but is subject to an early October deadline in Georgia.

Colorado’s system has resulted in high turnout (the second best among every state in the 2020 election), and the Centennial State is hailed as one of the safest states to cast a ballot. While Colorado has trended blue in recent years, former Republican Sen. Cory Gardner won in 2014, shortly after the new mail-in laws were put into place.

In addition to limiting windows for vote-by-mail, increasing voter ID restrictions and limiting drop box placement, Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, signed into law by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, also gives state-level officials the power to take over county election boards and criminalizes the passing out of food and drink in voting lines.

Last week MLB announced it was pulling this summer’s All-Star Game from the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park, which is located outside the city in suburban Cobb County. The league has faced blowback from Republican politicians, with urges of boycotts and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declining to throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener.

Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, speaks during a news conference at a mass covid-19 vaccination site at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, Georgia, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp at a news conference in Hapeville, Ga., on Feb. 25. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There has, however, been some high-level Republican opposition to parts of the Georgia bill.

“There were some things I didn’t like in the law early on in the process and I spoke up really loudly about it,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan told Yahoo News last month. “I think an important part of this is about continuing to live around the mantra of making voting in Georgia easier to vote and harder to cheat.

“I didn’t think it made sense for us to roll back no-excuse, absentee ballot voting,” Duncan said. “I felt like the early versions of the bill also limited Sunday voting. I didn’t think that was a really good position to take.

“I [also] didn’t think it necessarily made sense [to not allow] water and food in line,” he added. “I think there were just better ways to do it.”

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