DOJ sues Georgia over new law restricting voting News
© WikiMedia (Phil Roeder)
DOJ sues Georgia over new law restricting voting

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday a new lawsuit against the state of Georgia, alleging the state’s new voting law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Georgia’s new voting law, passed in March 2021, restricts voting in a number of ways. The law makes it harder for individuals to receive an absentee ballot, increases the legislature’s control over the election commission, and reduces drop boxes for absentee ballots. Notably, the bill also makes it a misdemeanor to provide food and water to those waiting in line to vote.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The DOJ alleges that Georgia’s new restrictions discriminate because restrictions on absentee voting followed a surge in Black Georgians’ use of absentee ballots. The law also requires Georgians to provide identification to request an absentee ballot that Black Georgians disproportionately do not have.

Importantly, this law was passed by Georgia’s Republican governor and legislature following upset wins by Democratic Senators and President Biden. The DOJ complaint notes that these candidates were strongly preferred by Georgia’s Black electorate.

Under the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ can seek remedies that limit the application of this law. If the law is found to violate the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ can receive a declaration that the law is unconstitutional, an injunction preventing enforcement of the law, the appointment of federal observers in Georgia to ensure access to the ballot, and subjecting future Georgia voting changes to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.