The suit – filed by 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 – claims “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.”
This is the second federal lawsuit to challenge the election law that brings a raft of new voting restrictions to Georgia.
The law specifically imposes voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
Republicans cast the measure, dubbed The Election Integrity Act of 2021, as necessary to boost confidence in elections after the 2020 election saw former President Donald Trump make repeated, unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
But the new lawsuit 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.
“Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voters of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color in order to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia,” the lawsuit states. “In other words, these officials are using racial discrimination as a means of achieving a partisan end. These efforts constitute intentional discrimination in violation of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
The lawsuit was filed late Sunday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the State Election Board.
The Democrats’ go-to election attorney, Marc Elias, had filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise Inc. on similar grounds.
“In large part because of the racial disparities in areas outside of voting – such as socioeconomic status, housing, and employment opportunities – the Voter Suppression Bill disproportionately impacts Black voters, and interacts with these vestiges of discrimination in Georgia to deny Black voters (an) equal opportunity to participate in the political process and/or elect a candidate of their choice,” that lawsuit states.
Still, 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, according to a February analysis by the liberal leaning Brennan Center for Justice, at least 253 bills have been introduced this year in 43 state legislatures with provisions that would restrict voting access – more than six times the number of bills for the same time last year.
This story has been updated with additional information Monday.