Does New York actually have stricter voting restrictions than Georgia?
Rather than trying to come up with some objective measure of voting restrictions, I'll cover the claims, the regulations, and where NY and Georgia are moving relative to themselves.
The claim is a combination of cherry picking, whataboutism, and lies about election security. As we'll see, they've cherry picked which regulations to look at and ignored the direction each state is moving. The original context is more concerned with MLB not boycotting New York than Georgia's actions; Georgia remains accountable for their choices no matter what other states, countries, or corporations do. And the claim repeats tired election security lies to justify Georgia's actions.
Politifact put it this way...
We read voting laws and interviewed election law experts and found that there are ways in which voting is more difficult in New York than in Georgia. But the opposite is also true, and a straight comparison of current laws leaves out important context about the trend in each state.
Recent and proposed changes in New York would further open up access, while the new law in Georgia — which has a history of voter suppression — tightens some rules in the name of security. We found the Georgia law is a mixed bag with both the potential to expand voting as well as restrict it.
The Food and Water Ban
New York even has a ban similar to Georgia’s new prohibition on the distribution of food and drink in voting lines that President Joe Biden labeled “Jim Crow in the 21st century”: In both cases, it’s an effort to prevent electioneering.
This omits an important detail. Georgia's has no qualifications, New York's does.
Some states have bans on offering gifts and rewards to voters in line if they are for electioneering. For example, members of a political campaign might be barred. Or if the bottle of water has a sticker saying "Vote Cthulhu, Why Choose The Lesser Evil?". Others put limits on what a "thing of value" is ignoring anything costing less than a certain amount.
For example, Delaware 4940. Disqualification because of bribery; determination of challenge qualifies it as a "valuable thing as a compensation, inducement or reward for the registering or abstaining from registering of any one qualified to register or for giving or withholding or in any manner influencing the giving or withholding a vote at any general election in this State". Handing out refreshments is fine as long as it's not being used to influence their vote.
New York State 17–140 "Furnishing money or entertainment to induce attendance at polls" bans "any meat, drink, tobacco, refreshment or provision to or for any person" unless it is of "retail value of less than one dollar, which is given or provided to any person in a polling place without any identification of the person or entity supplying such provision". Giving out a plain bottle of water or snack bar is fine.
Georgia's new law has no such qualifications.
No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place. These restrictions shall not apply to conduct occurring in private offices or areas which cannot be seen or heard by such electors.
The blanket prohibition is what the uproar is about. Georgia already has laws against electioneering at polling places. Opponents suggest that no one will change their vote for a bottle of water or a snack bar, but they may decide to leave a long line because they are thirsty.
To combat cherry picking, let's look at what the claim omitted.
New York has recently expanded voter access and plans on more. Early voting and automatic registration were added. Election day is a government holiday in New York and not in Georgia. Same-day registration and no-excuse absentee ballots are currently banned by the state constitution, referendums will be held to change that in Fall 2021.
Meanwhile, these are places Georgia increased restrictions.
- Georgia 2020 allowed mobile voting centers. Georgia 2021 effectively banned mobile voting centers unless the governor declares a state of emergency. New York does not seem to allow them.
- In 2020 Georgia if you went to the wrong voting precinct in the right county you could cast a provisional ballot. In 2021 Georgia if it's before 5pm you can't, you have to wait or go to the right one.
- 2021 Georgia restricts how long voting hours can be extended if there's a problem.
- 2021 Georgia prevents county elections from taking any 3rd party funding. Instead the state will handle donations. 2020 saw many counties taking donations to overcome budgetary problems related to COVID-19.
- 2021 Georgia strips the Secretary of State from chairing the State Election Board and replaces them with one elected by the state legislature. The idea that state legislatures could overturn elections was floated in the 2020 US Presidential election.
- 2021 Georgia makes the Secretary of State a non-voting member of the State Election Board, a direct attack on Secretary Raffensperger refusing to "find the votes".
This part of the claim appears correct. New York State allows 9 days of early voting, including weekends. Georgia allows about four weeks and added an extra Saturday.
First, let's deal with this claim: "Signature matching has issues with being subjective and high rejection rates". This is false. Signature matching was extensively tested during the 2020 election with no serious issues. The Cobb County audit found it to be 99.99% accurate with only 2 mistakes, neither fraudulent.
The claimed New York restrictions do not reflect the current regulations. The current listed reasons are:
In addition, the NY legislature overwhelmingly approved no-excuse absentee ballots and a referendum to amend the state constitution will be held Fall 2021.
In New York a mailed in ballot need only be postmarked by election day eliminating mail delays as a concern. In Georgia it must be received by election day.
Georgia made absentee voting more difficult and easier to selectively disqualify by adding the following restrictions:
- Reduced the time to request an absentee ballot from 180 days to 78 days before an election. New York has no such restriction.
- Previously they only needed to sign the ballot. Now they need an ID and add "date of birth, address as registered, address where the elector wishes the ballot to be mailed, and the number of his or her Georgia drive's license or identification card issued". Any of these being incorrect can be used to disqualify the ballot.
- Previously, election officials could decide to preemptively mail people absentee ballots, and they did in 2020. Now they cannot unless explicitly requested. "...neither the Secretary of State, election superintendent, board of registrars, other governmental entity, nor employee or agent thereof shall send absentee ballot applications directly to any elector except upon request of such elector or a relative authorized to request an absentee ballot for such elector."
There was one lessening of Georgia absentee voting restrictions:
- Previously absentee ballots could not even be opened prior to the polls closing. This greatly extended the process of opening, verifying, and counting ballots in 2020. Now they can at least open and inspect the ballots, but they can't count them.
Saying New York has zero drop boxes is lying by omission. Absentee ballots can be dropped off at early voting poll sites between October 24 and November 1.
As detailed in another answer, drop boxes were allowed in Georgia in 2020 under an emergency rule and I would say it was definitively less restrictive than New York's. Officials could put up as many as they liked. They could be open 24 hours. They could be outside. They had to be on public property open to the public. Extensive security measures were mandated such as video cameras and the construction of the box, but none restricted access. However, the following is now the case:
- The number of drop boxes has been restricted. "[Election officials] may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county. Any additional drop boxes shall be evenly geographically distributed by population in the county." For example, in 2020 metropolitan Atlanta had 94 drop boxes. Now they can have, at most, 23.
- When drop boxes are open is now restricted. They "may be open during the hours of advance voting at that location. Such drop boxes shall be closed when advance voting is not being conducted at that location."
These changes appear to make Georgia's drop boxes not much different from New York's. They both require going inside a voting location while the location is open.