Lawsuits Mount Against Georgia Claiming the State Unlawfully Limited Voting Rights

Voters stand in line to cast their ballots during the first day of early voting in Georgia
Photo by TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images

"Voting is a fundamental right and efforts should be made to make it easier and to encourage more people to do their civic duty," said Janette Louard, Interim General Counsel, NAACP.

A new civil lawsuit has been filed by several civil rights groups against Georgia lawmakers, alleging that a new voting law is an "intentional discrimination" against Black voters in the state, according to a statement.

The federal lawsuit, filed March 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, is the second case of its kind introduced after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill last Thursday.

The coalition of groups points fingers at Gov. Kemp, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both defendants in the suit, arguing that the lawmakers signed a bill that blatantly "suppresses" Black voting access in the state. The suit cites both the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The coalition includes the N.A.A.C.P., the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, the League of Women Voters of Georgia, GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause, and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe.

The suit writes that the bill, titled SB 202, now turned law, makes voting mechanisms more commonly used by voters of color like early in-person voting, voting by absentee ballot and using ballot drop boxes increasingly more difficult. 

"Georgia’s Election Integrity Act that I signed into law expands early voting and secures our vote-by-mail system to protect the integrity of our elections. The Peach State is leading the nation in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat," wrote Gov. Kemp on Twitter after signing the bill.

Similarly, Raffensperger defended the bill writing in a press release, "I’m a conservative Republican, but I’ve proven I’ll take a political hit to treat everyone equally under the law and stand up for the rights of all Georgians."

“These narratives are as lazy, biased and political as they are demonstrably wrong,” Raffensperger added, referencing the mounting criticisms.

The suit also argues that the law places unprecedented authority to the State Election Board to take over county election boards and target jurisdictions with a large population of Black voters and other voters of color.

“SB 202 is a blatant attempt by the Georgia legislature and Governor Kemp to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color,” said Janette Louard, Interim General Counsel, NAACP. “The Georgia law is part of a broader attempt to disenfranchise Black voters in states across the country."

"Voting is a fundamental right and efforts should be made to make it easier and to encourage more people to do their civic duty." 

A previous suit was filed by Marc Elias, a Democratic elections lawyer, and the Black Voters Matter Fund, a civil rights group, shortly after Kemp signed the law on March 25.

There have been a documented 253 bills introduced this year in 43 state legislatures that would restrict voting access in some way, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, CNN reported.