Biden calls new Georgia voting law 'Jim Crow in the 21st century'

Ruben Fields
March 29, 2021

Protesters gathered on a busy street corner to voice their opposition and share details to area residents about a far-reaching overhaul of Georgia's state's election laws.

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a new voting bill sponsored by state Republicans that imposes heavy restrictions on Georgia residents.

Leigh Miller, vice chair for the Hall County Democrats calls the bill's passage a "national embarrassment" that actively impedes Georgians to vote.

"Significant reforms to our state elections were needed", Kemp said upon signing the bill.

'The signal the conservatives on the court have sent is that they are willing to tolerate a lot of partisanship in how elections are run, ' said Professor Richard Hasen, at the University of California, Irvine, law school.

While no-excuse remote voting drags out elections, which is expensive and can make it hard for workers to process information accurately, the GOP did not stand resolute on this.

Those victories brought refocused attention on racial strains in Georgia, with its history of slavery and segregation and where Black people have faced decades of attempts to repress their votes. By a 5-4 vote, the court invalidated the provision that still covered nine states, including Georgia. You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, created to keep people from voting. Critics say it's cruel and would penalize even nonpartisan groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line.

Senate Bill 241 passed on March 8 in the Senate with the aim of reserving absentee voting for those 65 years and up, with a disability, or for people out of town. He added that mass mail-in voting is a "tremendous burden" on state counties seeking to process votes in a timely manner. Previously, one day of weekend voting was required, with counties given the option of offering more. Now that vote won't be counted unless it is after 5pm and that person signs an affidavit swearing they're unable to make it to the correct precinct, and they have to give a reason why.

The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group that supports expanded voter access, tallied more than 250 restrictive proposals in the states, many of them meant to roll back voting methods that were expanded because of the pandemic.

Proposed laws in other states do numerous same things.

Illustrative A voter marks her ballot during the US presidential election in Kenosha Wisconsin Nov. 3 2020
Illustrative A voter marks her ballot during the US presidential election in Kenosha Wisconsin Nov. 3 2020

The system came under scrutiny from Republicans after Sens.

Then-Georgia Democratic candidates for US Senate Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, gesture toward a crowd during a campaign rally in Marietta, Georgia, November 15, 2020.

Georgia's constitution says lawmakers "shall be free from arrest" during meetings of the General Assembly "except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace".

As part of SB 241, a prior version of the Election Integrity Act, Republicans would have repealed no-excuse absentee voting, meaning reserving mail-in balloting for those who have reasons such as a disability. Now early voting would begin "as soon as possible" but no later than the second Monday before the election, possibly leaving as little as five weekdays and no weekend days of early voting.

As Congress hunkers down for the fight, a groundswell of outside efforts is spending millions to try to influence the debate and apply political pressure on voters, corporations and lawmakers in both parties.

No new voters could be registered in the period before a runoff because the registration deadline would be the day before the earlier election. She was released from jail late Thursday.

Defending the law, Kemp said: "There is nothing "Jim Crow" about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot - every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person".

Mitchell's most public involvement in the voting wars came in participation on Trump's call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2.

Opponents are also looking to Congress, which is considering nationwide voting standards.

Other efforts are also underway, including from former first lady Michelle Obama, via the nonpartisan celebrity "When We All Vote" organization.

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Biden then said it was a "big deal" that an economic stimulus package was passed without Republican lawmakers voting for it. On foreign policy, Biden added nuance to two of Trump's signature issues. "Oh, come on", he said.

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