Lawmakers and activists share hard truths about suffrage

Despite registering historic numbers of BIPOC voters in the last three elections, Georgia-based voting groups such as the New Georgia Project (NGP), Black Voters Matter Fund and GALEO must continue to meet with voters less represented where they are. NGP, for example, is rolling out a video game this week at SXSW in Austin.

  • But they can’t do much when piled on new election laws that make it harder for people to vote, campaigners said Wednesday.

Driving the news: About 20 lawmakers, activists and academics spoke at Axios Hard Truths’ inaugural breakfast debate in Midtown. It was centered on race and elections.

  • Axios’ Kristal Dixon and Charles Ellison of WURD Radio moderated the discussion.

Catch up fast: Last year, 19 legislatures across the country, including Georgia’s, Laws passed that limit access to voting, said Nsé Ufot of the New Georgia Project. The measures include regulating the use of ballot boxes and postal voting.

  • The flurry of new election laws — including Georgia’s, which gives state lawmakers a voice in choosing an election board chair — is making it harder for election officials to do their job, Sean Young said. , legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.
  • “One in five election officials say they won’t be here for 2024,” said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission. “One in two people say they are concerned about the safety of their fellow election officials.”

No Compromise: Georgia Republican state officials followed Florida’s lead on Tuesday and passed a measure that gives the Georgia Bureau of Investigation initial authority to investigate alleged election violations and allows the public to inspect ballots of voting.

  • Last year, Republicans in Georgia passed an omnibus voting package that, among many other things, restricted mail-in ballot drop boxes and locations, shortened mail-in windows, and prohibited mobile voting vehicles used by Fulton County.

State Republicans, who retain a majority on Capitol Hill, have made it clear they don’t want to compromise on the issue, said Representatives Teri Anulewicz of Smyrna and Sandra Scott of Macon, both Democrats.

  • “I’ve had colleagues and Republican activists say to me with a straight face, ‘It’s nice to have to work a little to vote,'” Anulewicz said. “No. The right to vote is not reserved for the most motivated voters. It is for all eligible voters. We should do everything to do so Easier.”

The big picture: The laws affect BIPOC voters most negatively, activists say, and are essentially a continuation of racist election laws that have put up barriers for black voters for decades.

  • Georgia Republicans sponsoring the laws have strongly rejected this characterization and argue that the laws are intended to ensure the integrity and accuracy of elections.
  • After three Georgia ballot recounts and multiple investigations into the 2020 election, Georgia election officials and the United States Attorney General have found no evidence of widespread fraud.

The bottom line: All eyes will be on turnout statistics in the 2022 election, the first major election since the new law took effect.


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