Biden administration to sue Georgia over its GOP-enacted voter restrictions
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The Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its controversial voting rights bill, a person familiar with the department’s plans confirmed.
Republican state legislators around the country have pushed a host of provisions that would make it more challenging for people to vote — moves that have targeted Democratic-leaning voters and disproportionately affect people of color.
Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed on a party-line vote and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in late March, contained a slew of changes to election laws in the state. Perhaps most notably, it stripped Georgia’s secretary of state of power on the state elections board, making the board majority-appointed by the state legislature.
Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state, clashed repeatedly with former President Donald Trump following the 2020 election. Trump tried to pressure Raffensperger into trying to overturn the results in the state, but Raffensperger pushed back privately and publicly, insisting the election was a free and fair one.
The state elections board is also now able to remove local election administrators from their posts.
The new law also changed how voters can cast their votes. It replaced the state’s signature verification system for absentee ballots with an ID-based system and tightens the window that those ballots can be requested. It codified the use of dropboxes in state law, while severely restricting their use in and around the Democrat stronghold of Atlanta, compared to the emergency authorization during the 2020 election.
The law also drastically shortened the runoff period in Georgia, after Republicans lost a pair of high-profile Senate races earlier this year. The law does expand in-person early voting in many smaller counties in the state, while maintaining the status quo in larger counties that already had more expansive options.
One of the provisions of the bill that caught the most attention was a prohibition on the practice of “line warming” — the practice of sharing food and water with voters waiting in line.
As all this has unfolded, the Justice Department has grappled for ways to combat the state-level trends. Earlier this month, Garland announced that the department’s Civil Rights Division would double the number of people it has focused on protecting voting rights. He also said the department was scrutinizing new laws limiting access to voting, as well as post-election audits.
The Justice Department announcement came as voting rights attorneys and political operatives are awaiting the outcome of two pending Supreme Court cases from Arizona that are likely to lay out standards for future litigation over voting-process rules and changes in states across the country.
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