Posted on June 25, 2021

Justice Dept. Sues State of Georgia Over New Voting Restrictions

David Nakamura, Washington Post, June 25, 2021

Justice Department officials announced a federal lawsuit Friday against Georgia over new statewide voting restrictions that federal authorities allege purposefully discriminate against Black Americans, the first major action by the Biden administration to confront efforts from Republican-led jurisdictions to limit election turnout.

The legal challenge takes aim at Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed in March by the Republican-led state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R). The law imposes new limits on the use of absentee ballots, makes it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations, and hands greater control over election administration to the state legislature.

The action came as GOP-led state governments across the country have been seeking to impose broad new voting restrictions in the wake of President Biden’s victory over Donald Trump last November. Trump has spent months waging a baseless effort to discredit the result, making false and unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud.

In Georgia, Black voters helped drive record turnout for the presidential election and handed the state to Biden, who became the first Democratic nominee to win the state in 28 years.

“Georgia experienced record voter turnout and participation rates in the 2020 election cycle. … This is cause for celebration,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the lawsuit. Instead, he said, the Georgia legislature passed a bill whose provisions “make it harder for people to vote. The [federal] complaint alleges that the state enacted those restrictions to deny or abridge the right to vote on the basis of race or color.”


Garland and Monaco were joined at the announcement by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. {snip}


The law prohibits election officials from distributing unsolicited absentee ballots and shortens the period during which voters can request them. The new restrictions also limit the use of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Black voters, Clarke said, are more likely than Whites to face long lines when forced to vote at polling stations, and confusing information more often results in Black voters going to the wrong polling site, meaning their ballots are more likely to be invalidated.