Ever since Election Night 2020, Republicans have been consumed with Donald Trump’s “big lie,” which is that he somehow “won” the election if not for… all of the other votes which were counted. Trump really thought he had the power to “stop the count” on Election Night when he was briefly ahead in various states. “Stop the Count” turned into “stop the steal,” which directly led to Donald Trump inciting a terrorist insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. As it turns out, the terrorism was only one part of the Republican Party’s larger plan. They are still so pissed off that Black folks VOTED, so now Republicans around the country are pushing for Jim Crow-era voter suppression legislation. Last night, Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp signed a huge omnibus voter-suppression into law. The only thing missing from the bill is a literacy test.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a nearly 100-page omnibus bill Thursday that will make sweeping changes to election law, impacting voters, local election administrators and the board overseeing elections. With just days left before the legislative session ends, Republican lawmakers in both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly passed the bill, SB 202, on a party-line vote in the House first and then the Senate.
Marc Elias, the attorney leading the charge on behalf of Democrats to expand options during the pandemic, had already promised “an immediate lawsuit” if Kemp signed the bill into law.
Democrats and voting rights advocates have blasted the bill as a voter-suppression tactic and legislative “power grab” in response to former President Donald Trump and GOP allies peddling false conspiracy theories about a stolen, fraud-filled election for months. But Republicans contend the bill increases accessibility and is meant to streamline elections, provide uniformity and address a lack of confidence in Georgia’s elections “on all sides of the political spectrum,” a notion Democrats dispute.
The bill would expand early voting for primary and general elections, but not for runoffs, which is how Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock secured their Senate seats — and the Democrats’ majority — in January, breaking a decades-long streak of Democrats losing in statewide runoff elections. For primaries and general elections, counties would be required to have advance voting on both Saturdays and have the option to do it on the two Sundays that fall in the three-week period, too. Current law only mandates one Saturday of early voting. Another omnibus election bill awaiting final votes, HB 531, originally banned early voting on Sundays, but it was changed following fierce pushback from Democrats and the faith community who called it a direct attack on Black voters who participated in “Souls to the Polls” events after Sunday service.
However, this bill would shorten the period between elections and runoffs from nine weeks to four weeks, and while counties would be able to start early voting “as soon as possible,” the bill only requires it be offered Monday through Friday the week before the election — a much shorter mandate that includes no weekend days. Complicating this further is the possibility that the week lines up with Thanksgiving, when many are traveling. This bill also bans early voting on holidays.
One provision of the bill would make it a crime for someone who is not an election worker to give food or beverage to any elector waiting in line to vote, a practice known as “line warming,” except for self-service water stations. In the June 2020 primary, voters in Georgia’s largest metro counties — Democratic strongholds with large minority populations — waited in line for up to eight hours.
Another provision bans out-of-precinct voting until 5 p.m., and electors arriving after that point must sign an affidavit saying they cannot get to their assigned precinct in time to vote. Currently, voters who show up to the wrong precinct can vote a provisional ballot and their votes will be counted for races they were eligible to vote for, like statewide races.
There are numerous provisions in this omnibus bill which will ensure that it’s easier to buy an automatic weapon than it is to vote in Georgia. It’s beyond pathetic, and further proof of why we need the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed.
If all of this wasn’t enough to show people that Brian Kemp is from the Bull Connor-style of Jim Crow politics, Kemp had a Democratic state representative arrested for… trying to watch Kemp sign the bill into law. Rep. Park Cannon, a Black woman and Democrat from Atlanta, was arrested, dragged out of a state building and charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting a session of the General Assembly
This is insane: Georgia Dem rep @Cannonfor58 was arrested for trying to watch Brian Kemp sign new voter suppression bill. Look at how she is treated by police. This is straight out of Jim Crow pic.twitter.com/zRpMWumbkQ
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 25, 2021
Republicans lost presidential and senatorial elections in Georgia so they changed the rules to make it harder for black people to vote. It’s no more complicated than that. The law doesn’t make it harder to cheat; it is a form of cheating, a word that understates the malice of it. https://t.co/cnRWpp6czI
— Adam Serwer 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) March 25, 2021
Photos courtesy of Getty.