As first lawsuit is filed against new voting law, politicians and organizations respond

Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams

Less than 24 hours after new, restrictive voting regulations were signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, the first lawsuit was filed by three Georgia organizations.

New Georgia Project, founded by Stacey Abrams, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise joined together to file suit to overturn the law, which imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s qualifications, cuts the runoff election period from nine to four weeks, shortens the time voters have to request an absentee ballot, and even criminalizes giving food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.

President Joe Biden took aim at the law on Twitter and in remarks to the press on Friday, comparing it to enforced segregation era Jim Crow laws: “The Georgia voting law — like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country — is a blatant attack on the right to vote, the Constitution, and good conscience. It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century — and it must end.”

Kemp issued a response, claiming that the bill he signed into law actually expands voting access: “It is obvious that neither President Biden nor his handlers have actually read SB 202, which I signed into law yesterday. This bill expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity. 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. President Biden, the left, and the national media are determined to destroy the sanctity and security of the ballot box. As Secretary of State, I consistently led the fight to protect Georgia elections against power-hungry, partisan activists. As Governor, I won’t back down from keeping Georgia elections secure, accessible, and fair.”

Here’s a roundup of statements made by other politicos and organizations today:

* “The goal of voter suppression is to so demoralize the electorate that people don’t even bother to try. Well that will not happen,” said Senator Warnock. “We should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder. The people aren’t asking for this. This is democracy in reverse. Rather than the people being able to choose their politicians, the politicians are trying to cherry pick their voters. This desperate effort will not stand. We’re going to take this fight all the ways to the halls of Congress.” – U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock

* “I applaud the Republican legislators who worked so hard to restore public confidence in our system of elections by securing the vote. Sadly, Democrats continue to oppose secure, transparent elections. Georgia Republicans are committed to every lawful vote being counted, every unlawful vote rejected and for the counting to be done in the open and in accordance with law. The counting of an unlawful vote cancels out a lawful vote and ‘suppresses’ a lawful voter as thoroughly as if that lawful voter was physically barred from the polls. I am also thankful for the efforts of the Georgia Republican Party’s Election Confidence Task Force.” – Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer

* “Yesterday, Georgia Republicans put the big lie into law. Just mere days ago, Senate Bill 202 was a two-page bill. Since then, it has been expanded to 94 pages, passed the House and Senate, and been signed by the Governor. SB 202 claims to ‘make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.’ We disagree. It makes it easy to cheat and hard to vote, the latter being especially true for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, young people, and seniors. Under this new law, the Georgia General Assembly will consolidate power and authority over our elections. Those in power within the state legislature 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 mandates upon local governments. Beyond this power grab, this legislation intentionally criminalizes civic engagement of non-profits who supported the fairness of elections. The Governor’s signing of the legislation behind closed doors only illustrates the fact that the public is not with him on SB202 or any other voter suppression measure. This omnibus bill of voter suppression was rushed and forced through both chambers to catch Georgia voters off guard. But Georgia voters will remember. They will remember a silent business community that stood by as their donations funded suppression. They will remember legislators blaming voters for not reading the 94 page document despite it being available online for a mere 24 hours. They will take these memories to the voting booth, and once again overcome the challenges and hurdles voting in the 21st century. We, the undersigned, condemn these voter suppression efforts in the strongest possible terms, and will work tirelessly to make sure Georgia voters never forget what happened today.”  – Minority Leader of the Georgia House James Beverly and Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Tonya Anderson

* “Over the past several months, among heated debates and divided opinions, the Metro Atlanta Chamber has engaged with members of the Georgia General Assembly in both parties clearly stating our values when it comes to elections: our state and local governments should do everything possible to maximize voter participation and increase accessibility in our elections, while working to ensure election integrity. The final version of SB 202 expands weekend voting, puts drop boxes into law for the first time, preserves no excuses absentee voting, requires poll watcher training, and allows poll workers to work across county lines. In addition, as a result of the conversation on elections, the state committed to providing a free state ID to all Georgians. Still, concerns remain in our region and across the state with aspects of SB 202. We will carefully monitor this legislation’s implementation, and we will lend our voice to help ensure that every eligible Georgia voter – regardless of political views, race or background – can engage in our voting process.” – Katie Kirkpatrick, President & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber

* “From passage of the #SB202 voter suppression bill targeted at Black and brown voters to the arrest of a Black legislator who was advocating for the voting rights of her constituents, today was a reminder of Georgia’s dark past. We must fight for the future of our democracy.” – Fair Fight and New Georgia Project founder Stacey Abrams on Twitter.

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