Activists say new GOP Georgia voting legislation disenfranchises Black voters

The bill aims to make it harder to cast a ballot after the record turnout for the November election

Voting rights activists in Georgia have slammed a voting bill introduced this week by Republican state legislators who seek to restrict mail-in voting and early voting.

Critics have called the GOP House bill a direct attack on Black voters. The bill aims to make it harder to cast a ballot after the record turnout for the November election and Senate runoffs that flipped the state blue, per CNN. The bill comes as Republican lawmakers continue to push allegations of voter fraud.

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“After stunning losses in the general election and January runoffs, it’s no mystery why Georgia Republicans have rushed to enact restrictions on early, absentee and weekend voting. They know their only hope for winning elections is to restrict the right to vote and silence Black voices,” said New South super PAC founder Nsé Ufot in a press release. “Georgia Republicans saw what happens when Black voters are empowered and show up at the polls, and now they’re launching a concerted effort to suppress the votes and voices of Black Georgians.”

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The new voting bill follows a similar one introduced by senate Republicans two weeks ago. Both bills reportedly want to eliminate ballot drop boxes and Sunday early voting, impose a voter ID requirement, and rollback absentee voting, among other measures. Should both bills pass, activists are prepared to take their fight to court.

“These new burdens will disproportionately fall on communities of color and other historically disenfranchised groups. Eliminating Sunday early voting blatantly targets a mobilizer of voters of color: Black churches that run Souls to the Polls operations,” Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center Fund, said in a statement.

The Georgia NAACP and Fair Fight Action are among the nearly 30 prominent voting rights groups to fire off a joint letter to Republican House Speaker David Ralston and Rep. Barry Fleming, chair of the Special Committee on Election Integrity, calling on them to put a “pause on deliberations” of the bill.

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“We the undersigned demand that further hearings on HB 531 not be held until Monday, February 22 at the earliest to give advocates and legislators time to properly read and fully analyze the profound legal implications of this bill,” read the letter.

Ralston’s spokesman Kaleb McMichen responded to the letter in a statement to CNN on Friday.

“The Speaker heard complaints about the integrity of Georgia’s elections following both the 2018 and 2020 general elections. As such, he formed the Special Committee on Election Integrity to address the lack of public confidence in election results,” said McMichen in an email to the network. 

“As with all legislation it will be thoroughly debated and may be changed at any point during the legislative process,” added McMichen.

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