On Friday, it was announced that the U.S. Justice Department will file a lawsuit against the state of Georgia following its continued efforts to enact controversial voting restrictions.
The Washington Post reports that the lawsuit aims to tackle Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which Stacey Abrams among others have labeled as “racist” and a “redux of Jim Crow.” The act was passed in March by Republicans and was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, with the intention to restrict the use of absentee ballots, make it illegal to provide food and water to voters waiting in line for the polling stations, and grant more control of election administration to the state.
Republicans pushed to get the act signed following the 2020 election results, citing Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. The announcement of the lawsuit against Georgia was made by Attorney General Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke, who is the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
"This lawsuit filed is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote that all lawful votes are counted and that every voter has access to accurate information," said Garland at a news conference on Friday, per CNN. NAACP President Derrick Johnson praised the lawsuit, and said that it “speaks to the level of urgency that is needed to protect our fragile democracy and ensure that all voices are heard.”
The Election Integrity Act of 2021 has generated a lot of controversy since it was introduced, and even president Joe Biden was critical of the bill, which he called “Jim Crow in the 21st century.” However, Brian Kemp argued that criticism directed at the bill is “disingenuous.”
"These legislative actions occurred at a time when the Black population in Georgia continues to steadily increase and after a historic election that saw record voter turnout across the state, particularly for absentee voting, which Black voters are now more likely to use than White voters," said Clarke at the news conference on Friday. "Our complaint challenges several provisions of SB 202 on the grounds that they were adopted with the intent to deny or a bridge, Black citizens, equal access to the political process."