Civil rights groups on Tuesday said they have sued the state of Georgia over changes to voting laws enacted a week that they stated make it harder for many Georgia residents to vote, especially people of colour.
In a joint press release Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center and law firms from the nation said that the legislation was a direct response to this 2020 presidential election and Senate runoff election, where the nation had document voter turnout along with Democrats won the state.
"The elections were celebrated not only for their turnout, but also for their integrity, together with Georgia officials praising them safe and secure," the release said. "But instead of act to expand participation in the political process, Georgia leaders reacted by doing what they have done many times in the nation's history: they placed burdensome, unjustified, and unnecessary restrictions on Republicans, especially Republicans of colour and other historically disenfranchised communities."
Sophia Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, pinned the motives of the law on race.
"This law is driven by blatant racism, represents politics at its worst, and so is clearly illegal," Lakin said in the statement. "We urge the court to act swiftly to strike down it."
Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defended the law against criticism last week, stating that critics -- including President Joe Biden -- hadn't read the law.
"This bill expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting processes, and ensures election integrity," Kemp said in a tweeted statement. There's nothing'Jim Crow' about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot -- each Georgia voter must already do this when voting "
Biden called the legislation that an"atrocity" when speaking to reporters last week. In an announcement Fridayhe pitched it to"Jim Crow" legislation and called on Congress to pass a Democratic-supported federal measure to protect voting rights.
"That is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It has to end. We have a moral and Constitutional duty to act. I once again urge Congress to pass on the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to make it simpler for all qualified Americans access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the holy right to vote," he explained in the statement.
Prominent Georgia voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams released a statement about the law shortly after it was passed a week.
"Every business, governmental, and civic leader has to stand up and make their opposition to those dire anti-democratic legislation clear," Abrams explained. "In a time when Georgia ranks as the worst condition for COVID vaccination rates, Georgia Republicans instead are focused on reviving Georgia's dark past of voting legislation."