Georgia’s state legislature passed a controversial and wide-ranging voting rights legislation bill on Thursday that will severely restrict early and absentee voting in the state. Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law later that evening. The legislature put in place ID requirements for voting, limitations on ballot boxes, and made allowances for the state government to take control of county- and city-level elections. Early voters will be required to submit a driver’s license instead of a signature to verify their voter registration, erecting an obstacle for the roughly 200,000 people in the state who lack such documentation. The law also prohibits giving food or beverages to voters waiting in line.
Republican state lawmakers claim the law will restore confidence after the 2020 election, despite their claims of widespread voter fraud being unsubstantiated and despite the state’s election results being certified multiple times by its Republican Secretary of State. Experts say the upshot of the new law will be the suppression of the Black vote in the state, which turned blue in both the Nov. presidential election and the Jan. Senate runoff.
Voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams decried the bill as “Jim Crow 2.0” and said in a statement: “Georgia Republicans shameful efforts to suppress the vote and seize electoral power through SB 202 demonstrate how critical the fight for voting rights remains.”