The most recent information on Georgia's new Legislation Restricting Voting Rights
The Georgia Senate recently approved a bill restricting voting rights and giving state officials greater control over local elections. Shortly after the bill was passed, the governor signed it. Following defeats in the 2020 presidential election, the battleground state is at the forefront of attempts in GOP-controlled legislatures around the country to introduce tough, new voting restrictions. Georgia's quick intervention, according to voting rights advocates, highlights the need for federal legislation to establish a national standard for voting laws.
What both sides have to say about Georgia's new voting law — and how it will affect future elections
Following President Biden's victory in Georgia, the state became the first in the country to introduce new voting limits. Last year, shifting demographics in the state made the long-time Republican stronghold a crucial political battlefield. In November, Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state in nearly three decades. In January, high voter turnout helped two Democrats win seats in the US Senate, giving their party control of the house.
Republicans portrayed Georgia's bill, called The Election Integrity Act of 2021, as crucial to restore confidence in elections following Trump's frequent, unsubstantiated allegations of fraud during the 2020 election. "Georgia will take another step closer toward ensuring our elections are free, open, and fair," Gov. Brian Kemp said of the new law on Thursday.
Kemp, who is up for re-election next year, defied former President Trump's demands last year to revoke Biden's win, earning Trump's public chastisement. Kemp, on the other hand, said on Thursday that "alarming problems" in the 2020 election highlighted the need for reform. Republican state Rep. Barry Fleming, a primary architect of the new legislation, argued during Thursday's floor debate that it would bring "more transparency" to the state's election process.
Heritage Action for America officials thanked Kemp, lawmakers, and the 20,000 conservative activists who pressured lawmakers to approve the overhaul. Heritage Action for America is one of the national Republican organizations leading attempts to restrict ballot access in the name of "election fairness." Georgia's new legislation, according to Heritage officials, "makes the state a model for the rest of the world."
Meanwhile, voting rights activists and state officials say the state's quick action — as well as plans in other Republican-controlled states to enact similar limits — highlights the need for federal legislation to establish a national baseline for voting laws. Fair Fight Action creator Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, said the state's Republicans proved they were bent on "reviving Georgia's dark history with racist voting rules."
The Georgia bill has undergone significant changes in recent days, evolving from a two-page bill to a comprehensive omnibus package that will be signed into law in just over a week. In an unsuccessful effort to stymie the bill's advancement through the General Assembly, activists and Black religious leaders in the state-organized marches and threatened corporate boycotts.
Measures that would allow any Georgian to file an unlimited number of objections to voter registration and qualifications have angered advocates, who believe it will target voters of colour. Democrats in the Georgia Senate slammed bills that would oust the secretary of state as chairman of the state elections board and give legislators control of three of the five slots.
Meanwhile, Biden reiterated his call for Congress to pass voting rights legislation today, saying, "In the twenty-first century, Jim Crow is still alive and well. It has to come to an end." The Georgia bill is part of a broader push by Republican-led legislators around the country to pass restrictive voting laws in key states like Arizona, Michigan, and Florida. According to the Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University, state lawmakers in 43 states had introduced more than 250 bills with restrictive voting clauses as of February.