SB 202 signals the death of democracy unless the U.S. Senate passes SB 1 For the People Act, and SB 4 John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and /or the Courts overturn these voter suppression bills. SB 202 is a combination of restrictive provisions in HB 531and SB 241. It is a racist overhaul of the voting system that targets people of color to make it more difficult to vote.
Republicans claim the bill will restore confidence in elections.Trump’s delusional “Big Lie” – without any evidence – about massive fraud in the 2020 election and Republicans who repeated his lie is why their base lost confidence in elections. The only fraud is SB 202’s attack on voting rights to rig the next election in favor of Republicans. They are trying to pick who votes instead of voters picking their elected officials.
The same party that attacked the U.S. Capitol has now passed voter suppression and anti-democratic bills in 45 states that attack your right to vote and SB 202 empowers Republicans in Georgia to overthrow your vote.
The worst anti-democratic provisions in the bill allow Republicans – to control election boards in Democratic-leaning counties like Fulton County – to overturn the will of the voters. The State Board of Elections will be appointed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly giving the Board the power to disqualify ballots and voters as they see fit.
Other provisions in the bill make it illegal for the public to pass out water or food to voters standing hours in long lines. It creates a fraud hotline in the attorney general’s office to receive anonymous charges of fraudulent behavior by voters at the polls. It requires ballot drop boxes to be inside early voting locations and available only during business hours instead of 24/7, making it inaccessible to most working people.
It requires voters who use absentee ballots to provide their driver’s license number, state ID number, or other documentation with their returned ballot. More than 100,000 registered voters may not have have a Georgia drivers license. Voter ID rules protect against voter impersonation that is almost non-existence. A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation only found 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2004, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
There are dozens of confusing barriers to voting that have changed the rules from last year. Now, voters can only request a mail-in ballot 11 weeks before an election and you must return your ballot two Fridays before the election. Out-of-precinct provisionals will not count unless cast after 5 pm with a signed statement that the voter could not make it to their home precinct in time.
SB 202 passed the State Senate on 3/25/2021 after weeks of protest against the bill. Governor Brian Kemp immediately signed it behind closed doors, while six white men witnessed the signing under a painting of a slave plantation. How appropriate, since that is where Republicans appear to have a need to return the nation and SB 202 is the first shot fired in that skirmish.
State Representative Park Cannon (D-Atlanta), a voting rights advocate, knocked on the door to witness the bill signing but this was a good-old-white-boys club with no women or people of color allowed. She was arrested and dragged out of the Capitol like a dog for knocking on the door.
Rep. Cannon was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement and a misdemeanor for disrupting a general assembly session. She was taken to the Fulton County Jail and released on a signature bond.
Hundreds gathered in front of City Hall to support and stand with Rep. Cannon who has tirelessly fought against Georgia’s voter suppression bills.
The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise, Inc filed a lawsuit on March 25, 2021, against members of the Georgia State Election Board for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.
Plaintiff’s claim that Republican members of the General Assembly voted sweeping omnibus legislation (SB 202) making it harder for Georgia voters to vote and imposed unjustifiable burdens on the State’s minority, young, poor, and disabled citizens.
The goal of SB 202 is to restrict voting, impose unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote, and deny the voting rights of Black Georgians. This is a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Georgia has a long history of laws that hinder Black and minority citizens’ ability to participate equally in the political process. Other means of disenfranchising Georgia’s Black voters are the poll tax, literacy tests, strict residency requirements, onerous registration procedures, voter challenges, purges, the deliberate slowing down of voting by election officials so Black voters would be left waiting in line when the polls closed, the adoption of “white primaries,” and the use of discriminatory redistricting processes, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit gives pages of examples of how Georgia’s history has discriminated against minorities in voting and elections and still continues to discriminate against Black voters today.
Plaintiff’s request that the Court enters a judgment that the Voter Suppression Bill violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as undue burdens on the right to vote. It also declares that the provisions in the Voter Suppression Bill violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Threats of boycotts are getting louder in Georgia from the movie industry to professional sports. The Major League Baseball Players Association is threatening to move the 91st All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Many Georgians plan to stop drinking Coca-Cola.
President Joe Biden has asked the Justice Department to look into Georgia’s election laws.
It’s not over until it’s over. The fight for voting rights is soaked in the blood of Black people throughout the history of this country. Republicans really are delusional if they think people will quietly submit to having their voting rights and democracy taken away.
written by Gloria Tatum