After record turnouts turned Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control state law moved swiftly to introduce a series of new restrictions on access to voting and passed a new bill that entered law Thursday has been recorded.
The law will change fundamental elements of voting in Georgia that supported President Biden in November and two Democratic senators in January – close victories partly due to the turnout of black voters and the wide range of options available in the state.
Taken together, the new barriers will have an overwhelming impact on black voters, who make up around a third of the state’s population and vote mostly democratically.
Republican legislation will undermine the pillars of electoral access by restricting dropboxes for postal ballots, introducing stricter requirements for identifying voters for postal voting, and making it a crime to have people queued to vote with food or to supply water. Long queues are common in black neighborhoods in Georgia’s cities, particularly Atlanta, where a large proportion of the state’s Democratic voters live.
The new bill also expands legislature’s power over elections, which has raised concerns that it could affect voting in predominantly democratic, heavily black counties like Fulton and Gwinnett.
Black voters were an important force in having democratic success in the recent election around 88 percent Vote for Mr Biden and more than 90 percent According to Exit polls, Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff voted in the January runoff election.
Democrats say Republicans are actually returning to one of the ugliest tactics in the state’s history – repressive laws aimed at disenfranchising voters.
“Rather than grappling with the question of whether their ideology is causing them to fail, they are instead relying on what has worked in the past,” said Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist when the bill found its way through the legislature and referring to what she was. They were laws to suppress votes. “Instead of winning new voters, you manipulate the system against their participation and steal the right to vote.”
Georgia law comes as former President Donald J. Trump continued to publicize the lie that his election was stolen, affecting millions of Republican voters. It also continues to put pressure on Republican lawmakers across the country to continue drafting new laws aimed at restricting voting rights under the banner of “electoral integrity” to appease the former president and his loyal base.
New voting restrictions have already been passed in Iowa, and several other states are planning similar efforts, while the Supreme Court signaled this month that it was ready to make it harder to challenge all kinds of voting restrictions across the country.
Should the Supreme Court make changes to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows for an ex post challenge to voting restrictions that could disproportionately affect members of minority groups, Democrats and constituencies could be left without one of their main tools to challenge new laws.
Georgia has been at the center of the electoral struggle for decades. Democrats and pressure groups oppose repeated efforts to disenfranchise black voters in the state.
As recently as 2018, Georgians were faced with hours of voting in many predominantly black neighborhoods, and thousands of black voters were struck off the voting lists before the elections. Now Republicans have revised the state’s electoral laws again ahead of the critical Senate and governor races in 2022.
Democrats, who had no power in the statehouse despite holding both seats in the United States Senate, were relatively powerless in the legislative process to stop the electoral law, even though they now have judicial means to challenge the law.
The first iterations of the bill included measures that constituencies said would address black voters even more directly, such as a proposal to limit early weekend voting that would curtail the long-standing bourgeois tradition of “Souls to the Polls”, in der Schwarz Voters cast ballot papers on the Sunday after the service.
In an interview earlier this month, Ms. Abrams, former Democratic minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, described Republicans’ efforts as “a sign of fear” that they could not win the support of young and minority voters, two of the fastest. growing sectors of the state electorate.
She added that the measure for the G.O.P. that a large percentage of rural white voters, a traditionally Republican bloc, may also be hampered by laws that make it difficult for citizens to post and vote by mail.
Republicans have defended the new measures, saying they are focused on election security. In a comment on Thursday following the signing of the new law, Governor Brian Kemp said that following the 2020 election, “we worked quickly with the House and Senate on further reforms to make voting easier and cheating harder.” He added, “The bill that I legally signed does just that.”
Isabella Grullón Paz contributed to the coverage.