Republicans are calling it the “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” Voting rights activists are calling it a modern-era Jim Crow law, and with good reason. SB 202, the bill Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law March 25, appears to be yet another blatant attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise Black voters.
A whopping 87% of Black voters supported President Joe Biden in 2020, and they overwhelmingly supported Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Georgia runoff election, which clinched the Senate majority for Democrats. It is clear Black voters are crucial to the Democratic Party’s success in elections. Consequently, it’s no surprise Republicans are attempting to complicate the voting process for a group that often votes against them.
The bill appears to be retributive at its core.
The law requires identification for absentee voting, although approximately 200,000 Georgia voters do not have a driver’s license or other forms of identification.
It makes handing out food and water at election sites a misdemeanor, despite the fact some Georgia voters stood for hours in line during June 2020’s presidential primary. Studies show voting lines took longer in precincts where voters were 90% or more nonwhite.
Absentee ballot drop boxes must now be located inside early voting locations, which defeats much of the purpose of voting absentee. Black Georgia voters are more likely to work multiple jobs and have limited time during the day to vote in person, which means the availability of absentee ballot drop locations is useful to them.
The law is already the subject of lawsuits from civil rights organizations, who rightly observe “driven by blatant racism.”
Republican supporters of the law say it cracks down on voter fraud and actually expands the ability to vote, but this is untrue. I cannot see how complicating the voting process expands availability.
The law sets a dangerous precedent for election laws in the future, especially in swing states. Other states could pass their own versions of this law and make it more difficult to vote in neighborhoods where they don’t like the election results.
If Georgia can get away with such blatant voter suppression, other states can, too. It’s time to keep a watchful eye out for voter suppression laws in other areas. Democracy is at its best when everyone gets an equal chance to make their voices heard.