In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland suggested that Georgia’s new Election Integrity Act specifically and intentionally targets Black voters.
The federal Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Georgia, alleging that the state’s recently passed election law violates the Voting Rights Act’s protections for minority voters.
“When we see violations of federal law, we will act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement announcing the suit.
Garland, says CNBC, suggested that Georgia’s voting reform law was enacted “with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
Garland further said that the complaint will be the “first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote.”
According to POLITICO, Georgia’s Election Integrity Act was passed on party lines and recently signed into law by state Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. The law requires that voters show identification cards to request an absentee ballot, and shortens the window for requesting one. It also codified the use of ballot dropboxes in state law, while severely restricting the use of dropboxes around Atlanta—a predominately Black and Democratic-leaning city.
Interestingly, the Election Integrity Act expands early in-person voting for many of Georgia’s smaller, more conservative counties, without making any changes to policy for its more populous, progressive counties.
Kristin Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said that Georgia’s new law will disproportionately harm Black voters by making it more difficult for them to vote.
“The provisions we are challenging reduce access to absentee voting at each step of the process, pushing more Black voters to in-person voting where they will be more likely than White voters to confront long lines,” she said.
POLITICO observes that, while lawsuits may invoke the Voting Rights Act of 1965 simply because legislation or policies are likely to disproportionately impact minority voters, the Justice Department’s complaint specifically alleges that Georgia’s law is intentionally discriminatory. In other words, the federal government believes that Georgia made an intentional decision to deprive Black residents of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to participate in elections.
However, Gov. Kemp has insisted that the Justice Department’s lawsuit is baseless and politically motivated.
“This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start,” Kempt said in a statement.
“Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and their allies tried to force an unconstitutional elections power grab through Congress – and failed. Now, they are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy,” he added.