Civil rights activists say the lawsuit will disproportionately harm people of color.
A coalition of civil rights groups and individual activists have filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s new voting law, which was signed into effect by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp late last week.
According to CNN, the lawsuit is backed by a local chapter of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, the League of Women Voters of Georgia, the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause, and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe.
Collectively, these groups claim that Georgia Senate Bill 202 “is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor.”
The recently-passed legislation is controversial in Georgia and across the United States. Among other things, SB 202 imposes identification requirements for absentee ballots, allows state officials to take over local election boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes in federal and state elections, and makes it a punishable offense to offer food or water to people waiting in line to vote.
Georgia lawmakers have said the bill, also known as The Election Integrity Act of 2021, is necessary to “restore confidence” in the state’s electoral processes.
Speaking on Twitter, Georgia’s governor implied that SB 202 will combat voter fraud—despite there being no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred in Georgia or elsewhere in the nation in 2020.
“Georgia’s Election Integrity Act that I signed into law expands early voting and secures our vote-by-mail system to protect the integrity of our elections,” Gov. Kemp wrote. “The Peach State is leading the nation in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
However, the NAACP and its allies claim the act is less about confidence than ensuring results similar to the 2020 election—which saw Democrats grab both of Georgia’s senate seats—do not happen again.
“Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voters of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia,” the lawsuit states. “In other words, these officials are using racial discrimination as a means of achieving a partisan end. These efforts constitute intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
Another lawsuit—filed by election attorney Marc Elias, on behalf of the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, and Rise, Inc.—was filed against SB 202 on Sunday.
That lawsuit, too, claims The Election Integrity Act is nothing but a ploy to discourage historically under-represented voters from voting Democratic.
“In large part because of the racial disparities in areas outside of voting — such as socioeconomic status, housing, and employment opportunities — the Voter Suppression Bill disproportionately impacts Black voters, and interacts with these vestiges of discrimination in Georgia to deny Black voters (an) equal opportunity to participate in the political process and/or elect a candidate of their choice,” Elias’s lawsuit states.