Advocacy groups including the Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and the Georgia League of Women Voters have banded together for a second major lawsuit against a sweeping elections reform bill that Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp recently signed into law.
The legislation, among other provisions, imposes new voter ID requirements around the submission of absentee ballots and restricts the usage of absentee ballot drop boxes to business hours, which could effectively penalize working people hoping to use the boxes. Voter ID requirements can disproportionately impact disadvantaged voters who might not have the required form of identification. Meanwhile, the new legislation also criminalizes distributing food and water to people waiting in line to vote, and there’s just no serious connection between handing out water and the non-existent fraud that Republicans designed the legislation to address. It’s not seriously reflective of security concerns — it’s punitive.
Considering the high overlap between voters who could be impacted by the new legislation and Black communities, the new lawsuit against the Georgia elections reform legislation describes the bill as a “concerted effort to suppress the participation of black voters and other voters of color.” The legislation follows a round of defeats for Republicans in Georgia — just this past January, the state elected its first Black Senator ever, Democrat Raphael Warnock. On a similar note, Joe Biden won Georgia last November in the first victory for a Democratic presidential nominee in the state since the 1990s. Now, Republicans in the state legislature have come up with this restrictive legislation.
This new lawsuit follows an earlier case filed by voting rights lawyer Marc Elias and his team on behalf of the New Georgia Project, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise, a student organization. As explained by Elias’s team, their case “claims that the bill’s voting restrictions—including new identification requirements for absentee voting, limits on the use of absentee drop boxes, banning mobile polling places, invalidating ballots cast before 5:00 PM in the wrong precinct, banning any non-poll worker from giving food or drink, including water, to voters waiting in line, and more—violate the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” No post-filing updates in that case have emerged.