Georgia Republicans have passed a sweeping elections bill that voting rights advocates say is a blatant attempt at voter suppression reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.
The new legislation imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water. The law will also allow any Georgian to lodge an unlimited number of challenges to voter registrations and eligibility, which could put a target on voters of color.
President Biden responded by calling the bill “sick” and “un-American.” Other Republican-led states are considering similar voter suppression laws, sparking calls for federal legislation to set a national baseline for voting rules.
The new Georgia law is seen as a win for Donald Trump and his allies, who falsely claimed widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election. Trump himself pressured Georgia leaders to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Democrats in the Georgia Senate on Thursday lambasted measures that boot the secretary of state as chair of the state elections board and allow lawmakers to install his replacement.
Voting rights groups 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.