The jig just may be up for the shenanigans surrounding Georgia’s racist and restrictive election law that was recently enacted.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) formally filed a lawsuit on Friday against the State of Georgia, the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board for their roles in passing a law that makes it harder to vote in areas that are predominately Black — the same areas from which voters cast ballots that secured the number of electoral college votes needs for Joe Biden to win and Donald Trump to lose.
The lawsuit came days after the U.S. Senate failed to advance legislation that would have helped Black voters, in particular.
“The right to vote is one of the most central rights in our democracy and protecting the right to vote for all Americans is at the core of the Civil Rights Division’s mission,” recently confirmed Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said in a brief statement emailed to NewsOne. “The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination. Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”
The law in question, Senate Bill 202, preys “particularly on Black voters,” a press release from the DOJ said in part.
Several provisions in the new law limit voter participation by requiring those voting by absentee ballot to submit a copy of their ID, reduces the locations and use of secure drop boxes, prohibits the use of mobile voting to ease long lines and allows for state takeover of local boards of election.
At the core of the DOJ’s lawsuit is Trump’s “big lie” that he was the victim of election fraud, a conspiracy theory debunked many times over that nevertheless has prompted a wave of similar laws from other states, not to mention the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In an interview back in March shortly after Senate Bill 202 was enacted into law, Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, told NewsOne that the most troubling parts of the law are the provisions diluting Georgia’s secretary of state’s power and allowing local county boards to take over an election.
“That’s the failsafe,” said Albright, referring to the state takeover provision. “If all the other tools they got in the toolbox fail…then they could just come in and do exactly what Trump wanted them to do.”
Albright also pointed to the new provision allowing unlimited voter challenges. He said he sees this expansion as a direct response to the attempt of the conservative organization True the Vote, which funded a challenge against thousands of Georgia voters ahead of the state’s Senate runoff in January.
“They really set a framework so they could just challenge whatever Black voters they want,” Albright said.
The law also reduces the time to request and return absentee ballots, shortens the time for a runoff election from nine weeks to four and requires voters submit a copy of their ID for those without a driver’s license — which could pose an additional burden on some incarcerated people who keep the right to vote.
But wait, there’s much more.
SB 202 also prohibits the practice of line-warming, where volunteers often provide comfort to voters waiting in line. During the 2020 general election, some volunteers were met with resistance at various poll locations around the state and were told they could not be within 150 feet of the polling location — the standard for electioneering or activity by a political party or candidate.
Many organizations that do line-warming are nonpartisan nonprofit organizations that provide food, drinks, rain ponchos and even hand warmers to anyone near a polling location. Under SB 202, people cannot provide such supports within 150 feet of a polling location. This effectively treats non-partisan nonprofit volunteer efforts the same as partisan activity.
The lawsuit wants a court to make sure Georgia can’t enforce any aspect of the law.
Friday’s lawsuit from the DOJ came on the heels of U.S. Senate Republicans using a filibuster to block debate about the For The People Act, legislation which, among other things would make voting easier. That move effectively sent a green light to Republicans allowing them to continue enacting racist and restrictive election laws in their states across the country with impunity.
The DOJ lawsuit now serves as a warning shot to those other states, like Florida, whose new racist and restrictive election law was also borne out of the twin sins of lying about voter fraud and fear of multiracial coalitions.
This is America.