On March 25, the Georgia General Assembly passed and Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called a “march firmly onto the wrong side of history.” Indeed, SB 202 targets certain voters and erects barriers between them and the ballot box. From new requirements for voter ID and voting by mail to criminalizing providing refreshments to voters waiting in hours-long lines, this sweeping legislation is a transparent throwback to the Jim Crow era that we never really left.
Georgia legislators aren’t acting alone. In the early morning hours of April 1, the Texas State Senate moved to limit early voting and further empower partisan poll watchers, and the State House isn’t far behind. Arizona is working on new voter purge rules that will allow the state to scrub its list of permanent early voters (who automatically receive ballots) by forcing those who don’t vote regularly to confirm in writing that they wish to remain on the list.
The national landscape is staggering. So far this legislative session, according to the latest Brennan Center research, 361 voter suppression bills have been introduced across 47 states, including 55 bills in 24 states that have seen at least some action. In addition to the concerns described above, the Brennan Center details legislatures’ attempts to restrict the assistance available to voters for returning their ballots, stop state officials from affirmatively mailing out ballot applications, undermine ballot drop boxes, limit or ban Election Day voter registration, modify or eliminate protections against consolidating and closing polling places, and expand voter purges.
While pro-democracy advocates are working in the states to stem this tidal wave, we’re also pressing President Biden and Congress for action. We need the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to help set democracy on a better path forward. And we cannot leave D.C. residents behind.