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‘Jim Crow 2.0’ – Gov. Brian Kemp signs voter suppression bill

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‘Jim Crow 2.0’ – Gov. Brian Kemp signs voter suppression bill

Brian Kemp. Photo obtained via http://sos.ga.gov/
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This story has been updated. 

Atlanta, GA — According to numerous media outlets, on March 25 Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping voter suppression law that Kemp and other Republicans have called “reforms.”

The inspiration for those “reforms” came after Democrat Joe Biden won the state’s presidential election and the state sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate: John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Despite there being no evidence of fraud or irregularities in the recent elections, the Senate Bill 202 ostensibly addresses problems with the election process. The solutions in the bill also negatively affect people who are most likely to vote for a Democrat.

One thing the bill does not do is put an end to no-excuse absentee voting, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Republicans shelved the idea of limiting absentee voting to people who are 65 years or older, disabled or “out of town.”

According to Decaturish content partner WABE, “The bill includes a new identification requirement for absentee ballots in place of the controversial signature match policy. It adds new powers for the State Election Board to intervene in county election management. The bill would also strip the statewide-elected Georgia secretary of state of his role as chairman of the State Election Board, replacing him with someone chosen by the Georgia General Assembly.

“Unlike previous proposals, the bill would expand early voting access. It adds absentee ballot drop boxes into the state’s election code with new restrictions on their hours and locations. The measure would ban citizens from handing out food or drink to voters waiting in line at a polling place with the exception of a self-service water option. It would require Georgia’s election administrators to continue counting ballots until finished, without a break. And the bill would cut Georgia’s runoff election period in half, from nine weeks to four weeks.”

Democrats are calling the bill “Jim Crow 2.0.” It will likely be challenged in court, the AJC says.

To read the full story on WABE click here.

To read the full story on the AJC, click here.

The New Georgia Project, a a 501(c)(4) group advocating for progressive policies, released the following statement after Gov. Kemp signed the bill:

STATEMENT FROM THE NEW GEORGIA PROJECT ON GOVERNOR KEMP’S SIGNING OF SWEEPING VOTER SUPPRESSION BILL SB 202

Minutes ago, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202 into law – the most dangerous omnibus anti-voting bill since Jim Crow. SB 202 would criminalize giving food and water to voters waiting in long lines, add new ID requirements to stop hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from voting by mail, allow GOP legislators to take over local boards of elections, ban 13 days of early voting and eliminate weekend voting during runoff elections, and more. In response, Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, issued the following statement:

“Let’s call SB 202 for what it is: a blatant and intentional strike on Black, Brown, and new voters. Republicans in our state have tried to paint the picture that this bill is better than the rest, but it is just as egregious as the 50+ anti voting bills they tried to pass this session. SB 202 means that we can no longer host ‘Souls To The Polls’ events during runoffs, or so much as give our fellow community members water as they wait for hours to cast their ballot.

“What’s more: Republican lawmakers pushed this bill through behind closed doors and amidst a cloud of secrecy, introducing a surprise 94-page addition to the bill without sharing a word with the community. This is not how democracy works. Lawmakers are elected to represent us, yet they are doing everything they can to take away our votes without our consent.

“Make no mistake: Republicans are using Georgia as a testing ground for their latest voter suppression experiments. We are here to say that enough is enough. We will not be your punching bag.

“To Governor Kemp, to all Republican lawmakers who have pushed through these bills, and to all companies who have bankrolled them with financial support while profiting from our dollars: shame on you. It’s time you do your jobs and represent the voters you were elected to represent. It’s time you make your priorities our priorities: health care, justice, and progress for all people living in Georgia.

”And to members of Congress, may this be your cue to immediately restore the Voting Rights Advancement Act and pass the For The People Act. You have a duty to the American people to uphold the cornerstone of our democracy. Anything less just won’t do.”

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The New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF), a 501(c)(4), exists to increase civic participation of the New Georgia Majority—Black, Latinx, Asian American, young, and LGBTQ+ Georgians—by building grassroots political power in support of progressive policies and issues. We envision a new Georgia where we recognize and value the power of historically underrepresented communities, listen to everyone’s voice, and ensure every vote is counted so all Georgians can live with dignity and respect. For more information, please visit http://www.ngpaf.org.

Here’s a statement from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus:

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and Chairwoman Sen. Tonya Anderson Oppose the Passing of Senate Bill 202

ATLANTA (March 25, 2021) | In response to Senate Bill 202 being signed into law, the Election Integrity Act of 2021, Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Chair Sen. Tonya Anderson (D – Lithonia) issues the following statement:

“Senate Bill 202 is yet another anti-voting omnibus bill. Like House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 241, it represents a blatant attempt to undermine our democracy, our voters, and our electoral process.

These bills are part of a nefarious, concerted, national effort to suppress the vote of millions. Currently, there are over 250 anti-voting bills introduced in 43 states. Why? There is no legitimate report, investigation, inquiry, or audit that uncovers any conspiracy to commit voter fraud or rig an election in favor of a candidate. There is no evidence of any widespread malfunctioning of machinery or human error leading to unintended outcomes. Yet, here we are today, witnessing a takeover of the electoral process to ensure those in power stay in power regardless of the collateral damage such actions may cause our state.

In 2020, the Secretary of State and the State Election Board worked with local election officials to improve processes for obtaining an absentee ballot, establishing drop boxes, utilizing large venues as early voting sites, allowing non-profits to provide food and water to citizens waiting on line to vote, and other steps to ensure COVID-19 did not prevent Georgians from exercising their civic duty.

As well, local election superintendents used innovative approaches to provide voters a safe and secure election experience, sought additional resources to address unexpected costs, worked tirelessly to make sure every vote was properly accounted for, participated in numerous recounts, audits, and investigations so any questions about the election outcome are resolved, and anything else required to preserve our democracy.

Yet, here we are today, having adopted sweeping election reform to remedy concerns that cannot be substantiated and to punish public servants who put our state before partisanship.

Under this new law, the Georgia General Assembly will consolidate power and authority over our elections. The state legislature, at least those in power, will have the ability to appoint the State Election Board chair, remove local election superintendents who commit violations over two election cycles, overrule State Election Board emergency rules, reduce runoff elections to 28 days, all while imposing unfunded mandates upon local governments.

Beyond this power grab, the legislation criminalizes civic engagement. The role of non-profit organizations to register voters, inform Georgians of their rights, provide information on how and where to vote, offer comfort when waiting on lines, and protect electors from voter intimidation and/or suppression was instrumental. Since 2016, our state witnessed an increase of 500,000 registered voters. In 2020, over five million voters went to the polls. This is in no small part to the numerous non-profits that believe in democracy and exercising our Constitutional rights. SB 202 does not support civic engagement, it demonizes it.

SB 202 claims to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.” I disagree. It makes it easy to cheat and hard to vote, the latter being especially true for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, young people, and seniors.

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus is prepared to fight until the end.”

Established in 1975, the GLBC is a 501(c)3 non-profit, nonpartisan organization comprising of 65 Georgia House and Senate members.

For more information about the GLBC, please visit www.gablackcaucus.org or write to media@gablackcaucus.org.

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