Georgia’s sweeping new voting restrictions were attacked on Friday, with civil rights groups challenging them in court and President Joe Biden said the US Department of Justice was investigating what he called a “cruelty” in a law.
Among other borders, the Republican-backed law passed on Thursday imposes stricter identification requirements, restricts tap windows, gives legislators the power to take over local elections and shortens the early voting period for all run-off elections. It also makes it a crime for people to offer food and water to voters in line, in a state where people sometimes wait for hours in the heat to vote.
The legislation has intimidated Democrats, who just a few months ago celebrated historic victories in the presidential election and two Senate campaigns in Georgia that helped deliver the White House and U.S. Senate control to their party in Washington.
Biden, the first Democratic presidential candidate in three decades to win Georgia, on Friday accused Republicans there and in other states of making a broad attack on suffrage.
“It’s a cruelty,” Biden told reporters, shortly after comparing the restrictions for a second day in a row with racist “Jim Crow” laws introduced in southern states in the decades after the American Civil War of 1861-65 to legalize race. segregation and acquittal of black citizens.
Biden said it was unclear what, if anything, the White House could do to address the law, but added that the Justice Department “looked”. He again called on Congress to pass democratic legislation that would require automatic registration, extend absenteeism, and temper voter ID laws.
So far, Republican opposition in the U.S. Senate has weakened that effort.
A coalition of civil rights groups sued the state in Atlanta federal court just hours after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation on Thursday, arguing that the measures are intended to make it harder for people – especially black voters – to vote.
The suffrage in Georgia – like so many others persecuted by Republicans in state houses across the country – is an obvious attack on the right to vote, the constitution and good conscience.
It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century – and it must end.
– President Biden (@POTUS) March 26, 2021
Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer who led the party’s choices last year, represents the groups, which include The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise, Inc.
“These provisions have no justification for their burdensome and discriminatory effects on the vote,” the trial said.
Kemp issued a statement on Friday in response to Biden’s comments, saying the law “ensures the integrity of the election.”
“There is no ‘Jim Crow’ that requires a photo or government-issued ID to vote by absent vote – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in person,” he said. “President Biden, the left and the national media are determined to destroy the sanctity and security of the ballot box. “
Other states seeking voting restrictions
Other Republican-controlled state legislatures are seeking voting restrictions in warring states, including Florida and Arizona, after former President Donald Trump repeatedly accused his loss of Biden of massive unprovoked suffrage.
Democrats and proponents of suffrage have said the restrictions, which passed the Georgia legislature solely with Republican support, will further hurt voters in minority communities already plagued by long lines and inadequate electoral infrastructure.
When questioning his national loss to Biden, Trump focused much of his energy on Georgia. At one point, he personally called the state’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and asked him to “find” votes that Trump claimed had disappeared.
That phone call is part of a criminal investigation by state prosecutors into whether Trump violated election laws by pressuring officials to change the results.
In a statement on Friday, Trump applauded Republicans from Georgia for their actions.
“They learned from travestine during the 2020 presidential election, which can never be allowed to happen again,” he said.
Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud have long reinforced Republican warnings that stricter laws are needed, despite research showing that such cases are disappearing rare.
In a Reuters / Ipsos poll in February, 62% of Republicans said they were “very concerned” that the election was being held by unqualified people who voted. Weeks before the October election, 47% of Republicans expressed the same concern.