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Civil rights groups file third federal lawsuit challenging new Georgia voting law

Several civil rights groups announced on Tuesday that they have filed a joint federal lawsuit over the...

Posted: Mar 30, 2021 9:56 AM

Several civil rights groups announced on Tuesday that they have filed a joint federal lawsuit over the Georgia election overhaul bill, the third federal lawsuit challenging the legislation since it was signed into law last week.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Southern Poverty Law Center, and law firms WilmerHale, and Davis Wright Tremaine brought the case on behalf of the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Women Watch Afrika, Latino Community Fund Georgia, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The lawsuit alleges the new law makes it harder for Georgians to vote, "particularly voters of color, new citizens, and religious communities," according to an announcement of the suit released Tuesday. The suit also challenges several provisions in the new law, including the ban on mobile voting, new I.D. requirements for requesting an absentee ballot, and the ban on "line warming" -- which would make it a crime for volunteers to provide food and water to voters waiting in line.

The law also empowers state officials to take over local elections boards and limits the use of ballot drop boxes.

Republicans have cast the measure, dubbed the Election Integrity Act of 2021, as necessary to boost confidence in voting procedures in the wake of former President Donald Trump's repeated, unsubstantiated claims of fraud.

The Georgia law is part of a larger effort by GOP legislators across the country -- including in the battleground states of Michigan and Arizona -- to roll back voting access in the wake of the 2020 election.

Across the country, bills have been moved in at least 45 states. At least 253 bills have moved this year with provisions that would restrict voting access, according to a February analysis by the liberal leaning Brennan Center for Justice -- more than six times the number of bills for the same time last year.

'Bold and and shameful'

Sherrilyn Ifill, the NAACP LDF's president and director-counsel, said Tuesday the law is "perhaps the most bold and shameful voter suppression legislation enacted in the modern era."

"Its purpose and target are clear: to create barriers to voting for Black voters who turned out in record numbers for the November 2020 presidential election and the January 2021 special election," Ifill said in a statement. "The provisions of the new law and the manner in which it was enacted reflect a thorough disregard for the sanctity of protecting the right to vote and a headlong and determined zeal to diminish Black political power in Georgia."

The Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, League of Women Voters of Georgia, GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe filed a federal lawsuit late Sunday, claiming "SB 202 is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor."

It also alleges Republican officials included specific changes that target voters of color after the record turnout and Democratic victories in the November 2020 presidential election and two Senate runoffs in January 2021.

Marc Elias, an election attorney, filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise Inc. on similar grounds.

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