Almost from the minute Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 202 in March, Georgia’s new voting law has drawn lawsuits.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit. There are now nine legal challenges to the voting law. Here are the others.
In May, the Coalition for Good Governance, five county election board members and several voters sued to challenge provisions of the law that allow state takeovers of local elections, shorten absentee ballot deadlines and add new voter ID requirements for casting an absentee ballot. The law allows the State Election Board, which currently has a GOP majority, to remove county election boards, name their replacements and install new management.
“The takeover provisions are so egregious and dangerous to every concept of free and fair elections that they must be stricken from the law before they undermine Georgia’s elections,” Marilyn Marks, executive director for the Coalition for Good Governance, said when the suit was filed.
A suit filed April 27 by the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and several other organizations alleges that drop box restrictions, earlier absentee ballot deadlines, quicker runoffs, long lines and ID requirements will have a disproportionate impact on Black voters and other historically disenfranchised communities.
Organizations that encourage absentee voting sued April 7 over new restrictions on mass mailing of ballot applications. “This law makes it virtually impossible to run vote-by-mail application programs that help Georgians cast their ballots,” said Tom Lopach, president of the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information, two of the plaintiffs in the suit. “That’s why we’re fighting back today against this assault on democracy and will keep working to ensure every American can make their voice heard.”
The group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed suit in federal court April 1 over absentee voting rules, alleging that Asian American voters would be disenfranchised by reduced access to absentee voting.
Three lawsuits were filed within days after Kemp signed the voting bill behind closed doors inside the state Capitol.
The first came March 25, the day that Kemp signed the bill. The suit by the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise focused on absentee ID requirements and limits on the use of drop boxes to submit absentee ballots. The suit also cited provisional ballot invalidations and bans on providing food and drink to voters in line. The groups contend that the restrictions “lack any justification for their burdensome and discriminatory effects on voting,” especially among minority, young, poor and disabled voters.
A coalition of groups that includes the Georgia chapter of the NAACP sued next, on March 28, in a filing that calls the law the “culmination of a concerted effort” to suppress voters of color after GOP defeats in November and January.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church and other plaintiffs sued on March 30 to object to a range of provisions in the law they say will make it harder for all voters to cast their ballots, especially African Americans.
The lawsuit filed June 25 by the Justice Department urges a federal judge to strike down the law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act by listing ways that federal authorities say make it harder for Black voters in Georgia to cast their ballots.
It objects to provisions that restrict third-party groups from sending out absentee ballot applications, ban outside organizations from handing out food and water to voters in line, limit the use of ballot drop boxes and outline new absentee ballot deadlines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke also criticized “new and unnecessarily stringent identification requirements to obtain an absentee ballot” and provisions that disqualify provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.
Gwinnett County Solicitor-General Brian Whiteside filed a lawsuit Aug. 31 that objects to a ban on handing out food and water to voters in line.
The lawsuit alleges the prohibition isn’t enforceable and would reduce trust in law enforcement officers.
The voting law prohibits distributing food and drinks to voters within 150 feet of the outer edge of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line. Poll workers will be allowed to install self-service water receptacles for voters waiting in line.
This article is adapted from past reporting by Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Mark Niesse.
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