What has been widely interpreted as unfair election laws aimed at hurting the Black vote in the state of Georgia have now been promulgated despite the protestations of Democrats and election experts in and out of the Peach State.
On Thursday afternoon, Governor Brian Kemp signed the Election Integrity Act of 2021 after both houses of the state legislature, which Republicans control, voted in favor. The days leading up to the legislative decision saw a nationwide interest in what the bill proposed.
A few of the things the law seeks to do has left many concerned. For instance, the Act requires Georgians to get new ID requirements to request mail-in ballots. Formerly, Georgians only had to sign their names. Apart from that, Georgian legislators have now been given power to take control of election operations if any problems at all are reported during an electioneering process.
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People waiting in line at at a polling center now will not receive food and drinks from any Samaritan since the practice is now illegal. The law will also allow only a short period of time for early voting.
When the new rules were being signed, State Rep. Park Cannon, a Black Democrat, went to the door of the room at the statehouse where Kemp and other legislators convened. After knocking on the door in continuous protest, Cannon was arrested, handcuffed, and removed from the premises.
She would later tweet: “I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true”.
The new laws have been read as a response to the devastating defeat suffered by Republicans in the 2020 election where for the first time in decades, the two United States senators from the state – Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Black social activist, and Jon Ossof, a Jewish investigative journalist – are Democrats.
President Joe Biden also became the first Democratic candidate for president to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. The president also added his voice to the critics’ in calling out the new Georgia laws saying they amounted to “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” targeting Black people.