The Republican-controlled Georgia Senate voted Monday to move laws containing a slew of restrictions to suppress voting rights within the swing state ― a transfer that follows unprecedented election wins for Democrats in Georgia.
The state legislative chamber voted 29-20 to pass SB 241, which is able to now go to the Georgia House, the place it is usually anticipated to move. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has refused to say whether or not he’ll signal the sweeping voter restriction invoice, although as Georgia’s secretary of state he oversaw vote suppression that helped him win workplace over voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, a Democrat.
The invoice would finish no-excuse absentee balloting, which was pushed by Republicans when it grew to become legislation in 2005. Voters who’re eligible to vote by mail beneath the invoice could be required to submit a photo ID and have their poll signed by a witness to ensure that their vote to depend.
About 1.3 million Georgians voted by mail in 2020 ― together with 450,000 Republicans ― which led to a historic voter turnout. But with Republicans dropping the presidential race within the state for the primary time in practically 20 years in addition to two Senate runoff elections in January, the occasion is altering course. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the variety of white mail-in voters fell from 67% in 2016 to 54% ― whereas the variety of Black residents who voted by mail rose from 23% to 31% over the identical interval.
“In the last two election cycles, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of voters of color who voted by mail, the number of young people who used early voting, the number of African Americans who voted on Saturday and Sunday,” Abrams told Mother Jones journal on Monday. “We saw unprecedented levels of turnout across the board. And so every single metric of voter access that has been a good in Georgia is now under attack.”
Georgia Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R), who sponsored the invoice, claimed when he launched the laws in February that limiting absentee voting is important to extend certainty that ballots are counted. But polls have discovered that voters have been happy with the election course of final 12 months and wish lawmakers to increase early and absentee voting legal guidelines.
The invoice would additionally require a court docket order to increase polling hours, restrict the usage of cell voting websites, give the state legislature energy to quickly block any emergency voting rule adjustments and create a “voter fraud” hotline that may enable for elevated voter intimidation.
Exactly one week in the past, Georgia’s House of Representatives accepted its personal election overhaul invoice that, amongst different issues, consists of the identical voter ID requirement within the state Senate invoice and a restrict on weekend voting. That invoice, HB 531, will now go to the state Senate.
“Georgia has spent the majority of its history systematically erecting barriers designed to dilute the power of Black voters ― all to minimize their political voices on the issues that matter most to them,” stated Nancy Abudu, deputy authorized director of the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund. “Decades of hard work by voting rights advocates across the state led to record turnout in 2020 despite the pandemic.”
The impact of HB 531 and SB 241 turning into legislation this 12 months would clearly be to punish all voters and particularly disenfranchise Black Georgians, younger voters and folks with disabilities.”
The Republican Party began this 12 months with the clear intention of rolling again voting rights throughout the nation. As of Feb. 19, state lawmakers have carried over, prefiled or launched not less than 253 payments that prohibit voting entry in 43 states, according to the Brennan Center.
“This is the new Jim Crow,” U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who received Georgia’s Jan. 3 particular election, advised MSNBC on Monday. “And we must pass HR 1 ― the For the People Act ― and we must pass HR 4 ― the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act ― to end voter suppression and protect the sacred franchise for all Americans.”
Passage of the Georgia Senate invoice got here at some point after the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when marchers calling for an finish to voter suppression marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, solely to be violently attacked by legislation enforcement. The 1965 march throughout the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma was led by the late John Lewis, a civil rights activist who finally grew to become a congressman representing Atlanta. Lewis died of most cancers final 12 months.
“John Lewis gave me my first job. He is looking down on us right now and expecting us to carry the torch forward,” Ossoff stated. “The struggle for voting rights and civil rights continues. They are trying to strip the right to vote away from Black Americans once again. We will not stand for it, and as you heard from my good friend Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, we are ready to reform Senate rules to get this done.”
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