NAACP challenges Georgia’s new election law News
© WikiMedia (Lorie Shaull)
NAACP challenges Georgia’s new election law

The Georgia NAACP and voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit Sunday in an attempt to block the new voting law in Georgia that imposes stringent restrictions on voting and threatens voting rights.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202 into law last Thursday. SB 202 effectively restricts early in-person voting, voting by absentee ballots and the use of absentee ballot drop boxes. Additionally, the bill now mandates voters include a Georgia driver’s license number or Georgia state ID number on their absentee ballot application, in accordance with the absentee ballot ID requirements. The bill also prevents public employees and agencies from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters. Lastly, county boards of election are given the discretion to determine whether to eliminate Sunday early voting days and set the time period for early voting between 9 AM and 5 PM on weekdays and weekends.

In its complaint, the NAACP argues that the bill violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because the bill allows “intentional racial discrimination by state actors.” SB 202 will have “the effect of disproportionately and adversely affecting the right to vote of Black voters and other voters of color.” Additionally, the NAACP argues that the bill burdens the right to vote through “the individual restrictions and provisions and collectively through the combined effect of all of the restrictions and barriers.” Such measures are not warranted because “no legitimate state interest justifies these significant restrictions and burdens.”

The complaint states:

SB 202 is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor. In the last two decades, Georgia has undergone demographic change, namely the increasingly large percentage of the electorate comprised of Black voters and other voters of color. Additionally, as demonstrated by election analyses, Black voters and voters of color usually provide string support to Democratic candidates. The demographic changes and the voting patterns of voters of color have resulted in evolving political change in Georgia. After several cycles of Republican dominance, Democratic statewide candidates almost won the election in 2018 and then won the races for the President in 2020 and two Senatorial races in 2021. Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voter of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color in order to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia. In other words, these officials are using racial discrimination as a means of achieving a partisan end. These efforts constitute intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

President of the Georgia NAACP, Rev. Woodall, stated:

We promised to use every legal option available to us to fight back against SB 202 and out lawsuit does just that. The thinly veiled attempt to roll back the progress we have made to empower Georgians—to use their voice in the democratic process—creates and arbitrary law that does not improve voter confidence, secure election integrity not increases access to the ballot box. We will continue to stand for what’s right on behalf of ALL Georgians. The Georgia NAACP will continue to fight until every voter is able to freely and confidently participate in democracy.

This lawsuit asks that the court block the defendants from enforcing the challenged provisions of SB 202.