DOJ sues Georgia over election laws

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The Biden Justice Department announced a lawsuit against Georgia over its new election laws, with Attorney General Merrick Garland alleging the voter laws could restrict the rights of black Georgians.

Georgia officials have defended the measures as commonsense protections against fraud and have condemned claims they are “Jim Crow 2.0.”

GEORGIA SENATORS INTRODUCE COUNTERPROPOSAL TO STATE'S VOTING LAW

"Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia's election laws were 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 said in a Friday speech, adding, "The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy. They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp condemned DOJ's actions on Friday.

“This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start," Kemp said. “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. As Secretary of State, I fought the Obama Justice Department twice to protect the security of our elections - and won. I look forward to going three for three to ensure it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia.”

Garland had given a speech earlier this month in which he announced he would soon double the Civil Rights Division’s enforcement staff for protecting voting rights, saying, “We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access, and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act.”

Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and Georgia's secretary of state, has repeatedly defended the election law signed by Kemp in March.

“Democrats and national media outlets asserting that Georgia’s election reform will ‘restrict access’ to voting are just partisan talking points, not facts. The cries of 'voter suppression' from those on the left ring hollow,” Raffensperger said in March. “I’m a straight shooter. I call it like I see it. I did that to the chagrin of many in my own party when I spoke out against the false claim that Georgia has systematic voter fraud. And I’m doing it now.”

Raffensperger criticized the idea that Georgia’s new election laws were akin to “Jim Crow 2.0” as some Democrats have alleged, saying, “These narratives are as lazy, biased and political as they are demonstrably wrong.”

“There’s no rational argument against requiring state ID — provided for free to those who don’t have a driver’s license — for absentee ballots. I implemented our first version of that last year — every absentee ballot request that came in through the state website was cross-referenced with the driver’s license database and other records,” Raffensperger added. “This also requires counties to offer more weekend voting and puts drop boxes into law for the first time — the State Board of Elections adopted them as an emergency measure last year in response to the pandemic and would have gone away without direct action by the General Assembly.”

The new Georgia law, dubbed S.B. 202, requires absentee voters to provide a voter ID instead of the current signature matching verification process, standardized early voting hours to a minimum of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while giving individual counties the option to expand that to a maximum of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and limited drop boxes to either one per county or one for every 100,000 voters. The new law also bans outside groups from passing out water or food to those in line at polling places, which Democrats have decried as voter suppression while Republicans have contended it is necessary to prevent the improper or illegal influence of voters in line.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, appeared alongside Garland on Friday.

“The Civil Rights Division did not arrive at this decision lightly. It’s our job to follow the facts and the law, and, in this case, our careful assessment of the facts and the law demonstrates that Georgia’s recent voting rights law violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act,” Clarke said, adding, “Our complaint today alleges that several provisions of SB 202 were passed with a discriminatory purpose in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The Georgia legislature passed SB 202 through a rushed process that departed from normal practice and procedure.”

Clarke added: “These legislative actions occurred at a time when the black population in Georgia continues to steadily increase. After a historic election that saw record voter turnout across the state, particularly for absentee voting, which black voters are now more likely to use than white voters, our complaint challenges several provisions of SB 202 on the grounds that they were adopted with the intent to deny or abridge black citizens equal access to the political process.”

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Raffensperger said in March, “The Left said that photo ID for in-person voting would suppress votes. It didn’t. Registration and turnout soared, hitting new records with each election cycle. Their cataclysmic predictions about the effects of this law are simply baseless. The next election will prove that, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Left and the media to admit they were wrong. … I’m a conservative Republican, but I’ve proven I’ll take a political hit to treat everyone equally under the law and stand up for the rights of all Georgians.”

The Georgia secretary of state was even more pointed in April during an interview with Fox News, in which he said, “Unfortunately, that Jim Crow lie is dangerous for election confidence. … Going back and using pejorative terms like Jim Crow — there is nothing in this bill like Jim Crow at all.” He contended: “It is not a racist bill — having a driver’s license number is supported by two-thirds of all Georgians — African Americans support it, Caucasians support it, Democrats support it, and Republicans.”

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Tags: News, Georgia, Justice Department, Merrick Garland, Voting, Voting rights, 2020 Elections

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: DOJ sues Georgia over election laws

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