DOJ Challenges Georgia Attacks on the Freedom to Vote

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia challenging voting restrictions enacted since the 2020 election that federal authorities allege discriminate against Black Americans.

The suit challenges Georgia’s so-called “Election Integrity Act,” which was passed in March by the Republican majority in the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp. The law imposes new limits on the use of absentee ballots, gives the legislature greater control over elections in the state, and makes it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations.

Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis

The Department of Justice is right to intercede in Georgia to uphold the Voting Rights Act. DOJ’s involvement is welcomed by every Georgian who values the freedom to vote.

The GOP majority in our legislature forced this legislation through without any transparency, with the public or with Democrats on the committee, on party-line votes because they did not like the results of the 2020 elections. Those legislators decided they would like to pick and choose who votes and who doesn’t in upcoming elections. They even gave themselves power over election certification – through the ability to appoint a majority of members of the State Board of Elections – in case they are unhappy with the results of future elections. That is not democracy, that is the return of Jim Crow, and it must not stand.

The so-called “Election Integrity Act” makes it harder for Black and Brown communities to vote, it allows a state board controlled by the legislature to take over county elections offices and even gives the legislature the power to interfere in the certification of election results if it doesn’t like the results. These are barriers erected by partisan legislators to make it harder to vote for Georgians they deem unlikely to support their party. Instead of working to attract more voters, the current GOP majority in the legislature decided to limit who can vote.

In a democracy voters choose their leaders, rather than leaders choosing their voters but that is exactly what the GOP majority in the legislature has chosen to do – with the burden falling disproportionately on Black and Brown communities. We welcome DOJ’s involvement to reverse this injustice and allow everyone Georgian a voice in their own government.

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

The freedom to vote is the first pillar of our democracy but it is under coordinated assault. We are encouraged to see the Department of Justice stepping in to defend the freedom of every Georgian to vote, regardless of the color of their skin, their background or their zip code. We hope to see similar suits from the Justice Department challenging other laws under the Voting Rights Act. Black and Brown communities across the nation have seen their freedom to vote targeted by GOP-controlled legislatures after voters showed up in record numbers in the 2020 elections and in the midst of a global pandemic.

Common Cause is involved in court challenges to a number of these new anti-voter laws, but it is critically important that the resources of the Justice Department are brought to bear against these blatant attempts to disenfranchise voters.

Today’s lawsuit comes on the eighth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. That high court ruling, striking down the formula that unlocked the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, opened the door to the passage of voter suppression laws across the country. Many of the anti-voter laws on the books today never would have survived a Justice Department preclearance review that was required for changes to voting laws in many states prior to the Shelby ruling.

Those laws point to the vital need for Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect the freedom of every American to make their voice head at the ballot box.

To view the lawsuit filed today by the Justice Department, click here.

To view the lawsuit previously filled by Common Cause and other organizations challenging the Georgia law, click here.