ATLANTA — Georgia’s new controversial election law is facing legal challenges and gaining national attention, as the state continues to garner the political spotlight.
The spotlight had already been in the Peach state - a swing state that reached a historic voter turnout during the presidential election and the Senate run-off, where both Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won Senate seats. The results shifted the balance of power in the Democrat's favor.
The bill would:
- require an ID number to apply for an absentee ballot,
- cut off absentee ballot applications 11 days before an election,
- limit the number of absentee ballot drop boxes, and
- make it a misdemeanor to hand out food or water to voters in line.
Opponents are using the term "Jim Crow 2.0" to describe the bill on social media, drawing on the legacy of the segregationist practices that systematically disenfranchised Black voters, among other things. Republicans say that label is exaggerated.
President Joe Biden chimed in on the new voting measurements.
“You don't need anything else to know this is nothing but punitive - designed to keep people from voting,” he said.
Former president Donald Trump responded in favor of the new law.
Federal lawsuits have already been filed. Georgia Democratic Party chairwoman Nikema Williams called the law “a slap in the face to Georgia’s Civil Rights legacy.”
Sen. Warnock agreed.
“It's anti-democratic. It's un-American," he said. "They're trying to make it harder for people to vote."
Community activists pinpointed Georgia’s voter turnout as a results of the new bill being signed.
“It’s worse than Jim Crow," community leader Derrick Boazman said. "This bill would make it criminal to pass out a bottle of water to some old lady who had to stand in line."
Kemp argued that SB 202 expands voting access and ensures election integrity. In a statement, he said: “There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person.”
Kemp’s former opponent in the gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams, isn’t holding back on social media. Abrams tweeted “Today was a reminder of Georgia’s dark past. We must fight for the future of our democracy.”
Abrams is credited for helping to register nearly 800,000 new voters in the state within the last few years.