Georgia Passes Controversial Restrictive Voting Laws

By Nathan Seelig

  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed new voting rules and restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled state Congress into law in late March, following the 2020 election when Georgia voted to elect two Democratic Senators for the first time since 2003 and voted for Joe Biden, the first time Georgia voted Democrat on the presidential level since 1992.

  Kemp referred to its provision as “common sense,” arguing that it would help to maintain election integrity. Former President Donald Trump, who in the past insisted that he had actually won the state, despite results showing him behind by thousands of votes, came out in support of the bill.

  Critics of the law, however, have maintained that it is racist and unconstitutional and have vowed to challenge it in court. Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and founder of voting rights organization Fair Fight Stacey Abrahams condemned the bill shortly after its passage, lambasting it as “Jim Crow 2.0,” in reference to laws designed to prevent African Americans from voting following the Civil War. 

  Some of the bill’s restrictions that have drawn criticism include limitations on absentee voting, mail-in voting, weekend voting, and ballot request windows, all of which, opponents of the bill allege, are designed to stifle African American turnout, which propelled Democrats to victory. The law also bans water from being distributed in voting lines, for fear that doing so would sway the vote.

  Kemp, in response to the claims, stated that “This bill expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity,” Kemp said in a tweeted statement. There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot — every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person.”

  Recently, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights group, has filed a court challenge, alleging that it violates the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution.

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