Voter suppression has officially been signed into law in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that furthers restrictions the voting rights of its residents, specifically people of color. The House approved the bill 100-75 and the Senate, 34-20.Kemp signed the bill on Thursday ( Mar. 25) less than two hours after it was cleared by the Georgia General Assembly.
“After the November election last year, I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed,” said Kemp.
Below is everything you need to know about Georgia’s new voting law.
The new law now requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail. As a result, the time to request an absentee ballot is now shortened. Ballot drop box locations will also be limited.
The new law also cuts the time that runoff elections are held, including early voting. It also prohibits groups from handing out food, water, and other refreshments to people who are waiting in line to vote. Stacey Abrams, founder of Georgia’s Fair Fight founder called the law “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”
“In 11 years, I never witnessed a massive bill approved at such speed and signed in such desperation. This wasn’t efficiency or principle. This is cowardice,” she tweeted.
Abrams added, “Georgia Republicans want to hide their shameful actions from public scrutiny. It’s Jim Crow in a suit + tie: cutting off access, adding restrictions, encouraging more “show me your papers” actions to challenge a citizen’s right to vote. Facially neutral but racially targeted.”
Georgia Republicans want to hide their shameful actions from public scrutiny. It’s Jim Crow in a suit + tie: cutting off access, adding restrictions, encouraging more “show me your papers” actions to challenge a citizen’s right to vote. Facially neutral but racially targeted. 2/
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) March 25, 2021
Negatively affect voters of color
Democrats and voting rights groups agree that the law will negatively affect voters of color. This has caused some of the voter groups to file a lawsuit to challenge the new law.
President Joe Biden also spoke out against the law, calling it “un-American” and “sick”.
“It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century — and it must end,” the president tweeted.
The president has harshly criticized the Republican efforts to limit voting rights and vowed to do all he can with allies to stop the mission.
Also on Thursday, Rep. Park Cannon was arrested after knocking on the door of the governor’s office while he was making remarks about the bill. The video of her arrest went viral. She was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement and released that night. Cannon later tweeted thanking her supporters.
“I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression,” she tweeted. “I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true.”
Abrams posted an image of Cannon’s arrest. She compared it next to an older 50s or 60s image and titled it, “Jim Crow 1.0” and “Jim Crow 2.0.”
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 #gapol pic.twitter.com/IZWZGAX9RT
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) March 26, 2021
The new law is challenged
On Thursday, a group of voter mobilization groups filed a lawsuit to challenge the new voting law. SB 202 was filed by the Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, League of Women Voters of Georgia, GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause, and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe.
The suit claims the voting law “the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor.”
This law comes after the Democrats swept Georgia. In January, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff had won the Senate seats. The win allowed the party to recapture the U.S. Senate.
Chalise Thomas is a Mass Communications major at Albany State University. She lives in Jonesboro, GA