Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and others said at a Thursday night town hall that Republicans nationwide are passing voter integrity bills to prevent black people from voting.
During this virtual town hall, Abrams told audience members to pressure the U.S. Senate to pass the For the People Act. Some people also refer to the bill as H.R. 1. The For the People Act, if enacted into law, would nationalize federal elections. The proposed law would require that states automatically register residents to vote and also require absentee ballot drop boxes. The For the People Act would also eliminate state restrictions on mail-in voting, require same-day voter registration, and gut state voter identification laws.
“I believe in our democracy, and I know that what we are facing in this moment is not about who won or lost in this last election. It’s about who voted in the last election,” Abrams said.
“The victor is irrelevant, when you’re willing to change the system to block certain voices from being heard. We have referred to it as Jim Crow 2.0 because that is exactly what it is. It is targeting communities based on their demographics because those were communities not expected to participate in our elections.”
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA-05), meanwhile, described Georgia’s voter integrity law, SB 202, as a “voter suppression bill.”
“Those who support this law believe that it prevents voter fraud, but the reality is that these actions are a response to a problem that didn’t exist, and it truly makes it harder instead of easier to vote, which creates yet another barrier to the ballot box,” Williams said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said Republicans in his state use these laws to target African-Americans.
Among other things, SB 202 requires voter ID on all absentee ballots and mandates increased oversight of local election boards who fail to follow state election law. The law also secures drop boxes around the clock.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in March defended SB 202.
“What this bill actually does is fight the rhetoric from those that are fund-raising off of this issue and polarizing it, to take away from the unconstitutional power grab of H.R. 1 that’s going on in Washington D.C. right now. It further secures our absentee ballots by mail by requiring a photo I.D., which the vast majority of Georgians support. It is also adding days of early voting on the weekends. We’re expanding the right to vote in Georgia. You’re not hearing that from the other side. That’s what the truth is, as well as further securing absentee ballot boxes, which didn’t exist before,” Kemp said at the time.
“It’s completely contrary to what they’re trying to do in D.C. by doing away with the state’s photo I.D. requirement, by doing away with it being illegal to harvest ballots in Georgia [and] making that mandatory at the federal level. I fought very hard for over a decade to keep our voter rolls secure. You wouldn’t be able to do that with H.R. 1. So I think the people really need to look at who is trying to restrict things. It’s the Democrats in Washington, not Republicans that continue to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
The November 2020 election, according to Kemp, saw a 350 percent increase in the use of absentee balloting, more than 1.3 million absentee ballots total compared to election day in 2018.
“This obviously led to local election workers having to process far more ballots using a time-consuming, labor-intensive and at times arbitrary process,” Kemp said.
“By moving to a state-issued ID requirement instead of a signature match, Georgia will dramatically streamline the verification process on the absentee ballot.”
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