Republican lawmakers in Georgia have pushed voting legislation that has been described by protesters as “Jim Crow 2.0.” The new legislation that was quickly signed by current Gov. Brian Kemp will make the process of voting extremely difficult for many Georgia citizens. The state of Georgia has no fair reason to impose such harsh and oppressive voter restrictions. These new restrictions are going to be directly affecting minority voters who already run into difficulties casting their ballots. In response to this, the Biden administration should condemn the state for implementing such targeted regulations against minority voters. It’s critical that Georgia citizens receive the support they need when advocating against these regulations.
This new legislation comes in light of the 2020 presidential election after the first win by a Democrat in the state since 1992. Shortly afterward, two Democratic candidates won their runoff elections, giving their party control of the chamber. It is important to take this into consideration since the push for this legislation is being spirited by Republican lawmakers. Republicans are more focused on winning re-elections rather than maintaining and upholding the voting rights of Georgia residents.
Looking into the future, Kemp is prioritizing this 2022 re-election cycle. In a state that is progressively moving toward becoming more Democratic, his chances of re-election as a Republican candidate are shrinking. This is especially true if a strong Democratic rival, like Stacy Abrams, challenges him again for the position. As a consequence, imposing voter regulations that target minority groups will only benefit him in the long run. However, the negative impact this legislation has will be astronomical.
A closer look into the regulations under this new legislation reveals how much they affect minority groups. In the runoff elections in January, Democratic candidates managed to capture 93% of the Black vote. Furthermore, in November, it was reported that 88% of the Black electorate supported Joe Biden. The Black vote in Georgia has played a critical role in the state’s progression toward becoming a blue state, but these new voter regulations are going to directly suppress their votes.
Regulations that require the use of a driver’s license or a state identification card for identification purposes will affect 200,000 Georgians who lack those documents. Much worse, the new law now makes it a misdemeanor to provide voters in line with food and water. It also changes how provisional ballots are counted and limits the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots. The law will also allow the Repubilcan controlled election board to replace county boards and plant new leadership. By hand selecting the new decision makers, it will be easier for them to determine which votes actually count in majority Democratic areas. By limiting the access to early voting resources, Republicans will make it extremely difficult for average, full time working citizens to vote. It is very clear that these new regulations aim to leave minority voters in a disenfranchised position.
The Biden administration needs to take a stronger stance against what Republican lawmakers are trying to get away with in Georgia. Furthermore, Americans shouldn’t stand by as these modern-day voter suppression tactics are being implemented. In a statement, Joe Biden referred to the actions of Republicans as a blatant attack on the Constitution, and ended by describing the situation as Jim Crow in the 21st century. He urged Congress to pass the For the People Act, which would make it easier for all Americans to vote. However, staying on the side of bipartisanship, the president has left the issue to be resolved by Congress.
Americans who value their constitutional right to vote should make it clear that we stand in solidarity with the voters of Georgia. In order to do this, we must put pressure on our local and state representatives to condemn the actions of the Georgian lawmakers. In a situation like this, actions speak louder than words ー the voters of Georgia need progressive action.
What Republican lawmakers are currently succeeding at getting away with is directly putting thousands of voters at risk. Georgians are losing one of their most valuable rights as American citizens. A powerful way to incite meaningful change is by taking a pronounced stance against the actions of these lawmakers. Elected officials shouldn’t be working to silence voters, and these new regulations in Georgia are doing just that. These regulations attack the values of democracy that this country was built on. All eligible Americans should be able to execute their right to vote, no matter their situation.