Georgia's lawmakers passed the bill within months of losing two senate races from the state.
This week Georgia has passed a series of controversial election laws that will restrict voting access in the state. A law that laid bare the intentions of the Republicans was one that made it illegal to hand out food or water to people standing in line to vote. The bill was signed into law by Republican Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday night. "No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector," reads the new law, according to CNN.
It's no secret that Republican-controlled states have implemented voter suppression methods to limit the access of votes of minorities. Areas with predominantly African-American people often have very few polling places, leading to long lines. With Republicans losing two key Senate races in Georgia, largely thanks to early voting and heavy turnout among African-American voters, the party appears to be making it harder for African-Americans to vote. Forced to stand in incredibly long lines, people handed out food and water to encourage those to continue staying in line and cast their vote. As per the new law, the law will be applied within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter at a polling place. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor. Democrats slammed the party for implementing laws that echoed "Jim Crow" laws that were used to enforce racial segregation in the South.
The Georgia voting law — like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country — is a blatant attack on the right to vote, the Constitution, and good conscience.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 26, 2021
It’s Jim Crow in the 21st Century — and it must end.
Let's be clear. The legislation passed in Georgia is voter suppression. The Senate must quickly take up the voting rights bills passed by the House of Representatives. If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must make it easier for people to vote – not harder.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 26, 2021
President Biden called the laws an atrocity. "You can't provide water for people about to vote? Give me a break," said Biden, reported Yahoo News. The news laws also placed stricter requirements on providing identification for voters casting absentee ballots, limits the number of drop boxes for ballots, and gives state officials more power with regards to elections. Biden said he would assess his options about what to do but condemned the actions. "We don't know quite exactly what we can do at this point. The Justice Department's taking a look as well," said Biden. "It has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency. They passed the law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote? You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting."
Republicans have defended the laws claiming the measures were need to boost the faith of the public in the voting system following last year's Presidential election. That sounds like a reasonable argument if they themselves hadn't eroded the public's confidence in the elections by repeatedly claiming voting was rigged. There was no widespread vote fraud as Republicans, including Donald Trump, claimed, and it even led to the insurrection into Capitol Hill that cost five lives including that of a policeman. It is ironic that they pass bills that suppress votes and while claiming the law will "ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible." Not to mention that they have dubbed the bill "Election Integrity Act of 2021."
Voter suppression is a key reason why Georgia's governor is Brian Kemp and not Stacey Abrams. Never forget that.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 26, 2021
Following defeat in the 2020 Presidential elections, GOP-led legislatures across America are working to pass restrictive voting measures in states such as Arizona, Michigan, and Florida. Reverend Tim McDonald, the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, promised to start a "movement" against the laws. "You know something is wrong when you can't give grandma a bottle of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," said McDonald, reported CNN. "Black folks are not stupid. We know their tricks. We know their motivation. They are the [Ku Klux] Klan in three-piece suits."
This is insane: Georgia Dem rep @Cannonfor58 was arrested for trying to watch Brian Kemp sign new voter suppression bill. Look at how she is treated by police. This is straight out of Jim Crow pic.twitter.com/zRpMWumbkQ— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 25, 2021
Democratic senators and activists believe it's time to implement federal measures to protect democracy from such partisan acts. “The choice is the republic or the filibuster — there is no third option,” said Ezra Levin, the co-founder of Indivisible, a national network of progressive activists, reported NBC News. “We are at an inflection point in American history. Down one path is a Trump-inspired white plutocracy, and down the other is a representative democracy.”