STATEMENT: Democratic Party of Georgia Responds to Signing of SB 202 by Governor Brian Kemp

March 25, 2021

Today, after Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202 into law following a rushed process in which Republicans inflated a two-page bill into a 95-page voter suppression omnibus bill and rushed it through the House and Senate to avoid full public scrutiny and deliberation, Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, released the following statement:

“This is a sad day for Georgia. Senate Bill 202 – the most flagrantly racist, partisan power grab of elections in modern Georgia history – is a slap in the face to Georgia’s civil rights legacy. After losing elections because more voters of color made their voices heard, Brian Kemp and the GOP are now trying to outright silence Georgia voters by making it harder to cast a ballot and letting partisan actors take over local elections, against the will of local leaders and the majority of Georgians. 

“Let’s be clear: Republicans’ desperate attempt to maintain their grip on power is a dangerous death knell for our democracy, predicated solely on lies fueled by conspiracy theorists and white supremacists. Though it’s unsurprising that Brian Kemp, the architect of voter suppression, is tying his legacy to this racist, anti-democratic bill, it’s no less shameful. He and his fellow Republicans are insulting the memory of heroes like John Lewis who risked their lives for the right to vote, and disempowering the millions of Georgians who have exercised that sacred right as a result. 

“Our deepest thanks go to the hard-working members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses, the organizers, and the activists who have been tirelessly fighting this bill from the start on behalf of Georgia voters across the state. Rest assured that we will fight tooth and nail in court to put this legislation where it rightfully belongs: in the ash heap of history along with the rest of Jim Crow.”

Among worst voter suppression tactics in SB 202 are:

  • Makes absentee voting harder by requiring ID and drastically shortening the timeline to request a ballot. Requiring a copy of ID to vote absentee is prohibitive for voters who lack access to scanners, copiers, and printers, particularly rural and low-income voters. Narrowing the timeline to request a ballot will inevitably lead to less absentee voting, and thus lead to either longer lines for in-person voting or people not voting at all.
  • Renders absentee ballot drop boxes useless by limiting their availability and keeping them behind locked doors. Limiting the number of and access to ballot drop boxes would severely hamper one of the safest, easiest, and most convenient ways to return a ballot, especially at a time when our mail system is overloaded and uncertain.
  • Throwing out votes of many eligible voters who cast their ballot at the wrong precinct location. Eligible voters who are properly registered could see their votes go uncounted if they vote at the wrong precinct, which is likely given last-minute precinct changes and the logistical difficulty in conveying such late notices to every single voter.
  • Criminalizing handing out food and water to people standing in long lines to vote. If absentee voting is made harder, which this bill would do, we can expect voters at precincts with typically long lines to face even greater wait times. Denying them food and water discourages them from staying in line to cast their ballot.
  • Allowing the State Election Board, under the control of the General Assembly, to take over county-run election boards. This would rip control from local election officials and counties and consolidate it within a group of partisan actors.
  • Shortening the runoff timeline from nine weeks to four weeks. County election officials have said it would be nearly impossible to implement such a condensed runoff timeline. This would place an incredibly costly and time-consuming burden on local officials.

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