The U.S. Department of Justice announced it is taking definitive action and is suing the State of Georgia over the controversial voting restrictions laws enacted as part of Republican efforts nationwide to limit voting access in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election defeat.
Georgia’s recently passed and highly controversial voter suppression bill, SB 202, which prevents full and free access to the ballot for voters throughout the state is a blatant measure to suppress Balck and Democratic participation in a fair and open election process.
The state law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
The DOJ lawsuit is expected to challenge multiple provisions in S.B. 202, including the:
ban on mobile voting
new narrow identification requirements for requesting and casting an absentee ballot
delayed and compressed time period for requesting absentee ballots
restrictions on secure drop boxes
out-of-precinct provisional ballot disqualification
drastic reduction in early voting in runoff elections
perhaps most cruelly, ban on “line warming,” where volunteers provide water and snacks to Georgians, disproportionately those of color, who wait in needlessly long lines to cast their vote
These provisions violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and infringe on Georgians’ rights under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Republicans continuing to perpetuate the “Big Lie” regarding voter fraud in the state resorted to the measure as necessary to boost confidence in elections after the 2020 election. In truth since election officials unequivocally disproved any election fraud in the 2020 election, it should have been a cause to celebrate a fair and justice election process. Instead, the GOP has been hellbent on ensuring that the voting process limits and unfairly burdens minority voters through the use of Jim Crow-era laws.
The law being challenged is S.B. 202, which was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in short order. These elected officials’ actions follow the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 runoff elections for two seats to the U.S. Senate that saw record turnout of voters, particularly Black voters, in Georgia.
While a number of local organizations have filed similar lawsuits against the law, none carry the clout of the DOJ’s acton taken this morning.
Following the Justice Department’s announcement today that it is suing the state of Georgia over its voter suppression laws, Nse Ufot, CEO of The New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF), issued the following statement:
“We are happy to have the Biden administration join the fight to defend the very fabric of our democracy against Georgia’s reckless, unconstitutional Republican-led voter suppression laws.
These attacks are a direct backlash and whitelash against the progressive, multiracial, multigenerational, and multilingual coalition we built in Georgia that flipped the Peach State and secured a victory for President Biden and a Democratic Senate.
Biden owes his presidency and his ability to push his agenda to Georgia’s Black and Brown voters, whom we mobilized in the election and are mobilizing right now in the fight for the most important of all rights – the right to vote.
We are encouraged by the bold and strategic ways that this Department of Justice has chosen to enter the battle to defend Americans’ freedom to vote. Having a DOJ and a Civil Rights Division led by experienced, accountable, capable attorneys familiar with the concept of justice is what America needs at a time like this.
What a difference an election makes.
We look forward to being partners in this fight.”
At the time the elections were celebrated not just for their turnout, but also for their integrity, with Georgia officials praising them as safe and secure. But rather than act to expand participation in the political process, Georgia leaders responded by doing what they have done many times in the state’s history: they placed burdensome, unjustified, and unnecessary restrictions on voters, particularly voters of color and other historically disenfranchised communities.
Opponents of Georgia’s law applauded the DOJ’s move, with the NAACP president Derrick Johnson saying it “speaks to the level of urgency that is needed to protect our fragile democracy and ensure that all voices are heard.”
Also Friday, June 25, 2021 the Justice Department announced a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials. Jurisdictions across the country, especially with high-stake local elections like in Fulton County, Georgia, reported receiving threats and racist taunts.
This story is breaking and will be updated.