ATLANTA — Georgia’s new voting law has created a conversation, both across the state and nationwide, about access and fairness.
There are also calls for boycotts. But, now Senate Bill 202 is state law thanks to Governor Brian Kemp’s signature.
UGA political science professor Dr. Charles Bullock said those who oppose the new voting law have influence with their boycotts but, those who believe Georgia needs this law have strong enough support to move forward as well.
Opponents have the backing of some of the state’s biggest corporations now. The CEOs of Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola both spoke out against the law, which led to some posturing by state GOP lawmakers who said they plan to boycott Coke products.
House Republicans also tried a last-minute repeal of a jet fuel tax break worth millions of dollars for Delta.
Dr. Bullock said the protests against the law could pay off by leading to a court injunction.
“It means you cannot implement the law. There would ultimately be a trial on the merits of the case and, that is, take the arguments which were put forth by the plaintiffs, balance them against the arguments put forth by the state about why this is needed, and ultimately you get a decision,” he said.
He said that appears to be the strategy as we see more lawsuits. Bullock said another possibility would be similar to the North Carolina 2016 “Bathroom Bill”, which banned transgender people from using the bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.
Businesses boycotted the state, and the NBA moved its annual All-Star game from the city and during the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers passed a new piece of legislation that was almost a full-repeal of the bathroom bill.
“That’s something opponents can hope for would be that in the 2022 legislative session, changes are made but again, effects of the law may never be felt,” said Dr. Bullock.
For supporters of the bill, Dr. Bullock said they still have power in this conversation because they have the backing of Governor Kemp.
“The governor, of course, has pretty much doubled down on this, so if there is a statute which went through and said forget about these particular items, I guess it’s possible the governor might not sign that legislation," Bullock said. "He might veto it.”
He said that people on both sides could use this as an opportunity to also drive out their voter bases in 2022, the next state election.
“We’re going to have a full round of elections in 2022, all of our state legislators will be on the ballot. Governor will be on the ballot, so it would also be an opportunity for opponents to express themselves more than a protest movement,” he said.