Georgia Republicans on Thursday passed a controversial bill that would restrict voter access in their state. The unprecedented move comes months after Georgia voters gave Democrats control of the White House and US Senate after a record-breaking turnout.
Last November, President Joe Biden became the first Democrat in nearly three decades to win the state. And strong voter turnout in January helped send two Democrats to the US Senate, flipping control of the chamber to their party. One of those new senators, Raphael Warnock, captured his seat in a special election and will be on the ballot again in 2022.
The legislation, known as Election Integrity Act of 2021, which is being finalized days before the end of Georgia’s legislative session, is part of a national Republican effort that aims to restrict access to the ballot box following record turnout in the November election.
Voting rights groups have slammed the far-reaching bill, particularly for its provisions aimed at the secretary of state and local election officials. They argue that granting the state new powers over county elections bucks the tradition of local control and could lead to a scenario in which state officials swoop in to prevent a county from certifying its election results.
President Joe Biden said in his first White House press conference Thursday that he will “do everything” in his power to halt efforts to restrict voting rights, saying that he thinks the efforts underway in state legislatures are “un-American.”