Georgia’s GOP-controlled state legislature passed voting restrictions under Senate Bill 202 that adds “new ID requirements to quell eligible voters from voting by mail, places unnecessary limits on ballot drop boxes, and even criminalizes handing out food and water to voters, and more,” ESSENCE reported in March.
At the time, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams called the legislation “nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”
But the Department of Justice has stepped in, suing the state on the grounds that SB 202’s provisions had “the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race,” a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “The right of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.” “This lawsuit is the first step of many we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote; that all lawful votes are counted; and that every voter has access to accurate information,” he added.
Recently-confirmed Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division also made a statement.
“The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination,” she said. “Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”
The lawsuit follows an address from Attorney General Garland, in which he announced plans to direct resources to voting rights. “To meet the challenge of the current moment, we must rededicate the resources of the Department of Justice to a critical part of its original mission: enforcing federal law to protect the franchise for all eligible voters,” he said.