The bill, signed into law on Thursday by Republican Prime Minister Brian Kemp, imposes new voter identification requirements on existing ballot papers, restricts the use of ballot boxes and makes it a criminal offense to go to voters in line to provide them with food and water.
Kemp said the law allows Georgia “to take further steps to ensure that our elections are secure, accessible and free from corruption.” Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
“None other than Pee Wee Herman believed them when they spoke of ‘vote loyalty,'” said Rev. Tim McDonald, an Atlanta clergyman who founded the African American Ministers Leadership Council. His party has created “Souls to the Polls,” which is a voting organization among Black churches across the country. Earlier versions of Georgia’s election bill would have eliminated early Sunday voting, which is popular with Black voters.
“Black people are stupid. We know their cunning. We know their motivation,” McDonald said. “They’re [In Klux] Klan wearing three suits.”
But it could also be political misconduct. There is growing evidence that voter ban laws sometimes backfire on their supporters.
By attacking Georgia’s voting rights the Republicans have abandoned the GOP’s political strategy that helped them win the upcoming elections. And they have angered a powerful group of Black voters in Georgia who have already attacked them.
Republicans run for Black voters under George W. Bush
Consider the first major mistake the Republic of Georgia made: identifying “Souls on Polls” in the old versions of their voting bill.
Restricted voting rules apply especially if they wear neutral language such as “electoral integrity” or “ballot security.” But Georgia GOP’s proposals floated with recommendations earlier this year to end Sunday’s early voting, which was seen as a direct attack on Black voters. Many Black churches took passengers to polling stations on Sunday during the first voting period.
The tradition of “Souls to the Polls” was founded in 1998 by McDonald, an Atlanta pastor, and a group of church leaders. Members of the group traveled to South Africa to witness the first free national elections and were inspired by the variety of voting options offered there. They brought a dinner motto to a hotel in Washington.
McDonald says by pointing to “Souls in Communities,” the Republicans of Georgia did not even try to hide their animosity toward Black voters.
“They know it’s considered racist, but they’re so racist that they don’t care,” said McDonald, senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Georgia’s attorney, Barry Fleming, who co-sponsored the voting bill and chaired a special committee on the integrity of the state legislature, did not respond to a request for comment from CNN. A spokesman for the Georgia Republican Party did not respond to a similar request for comment.
Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s state secretary, issued a statement on Friday saying Georgia’s new law increased access to voting and provided new security measures.
“The cry of ‘voter oppression’ for those in the left-hand ring,” said Republican Raffensperger. “I am a direct shooter. I call it a joke. I did that to the dismay of many in my party when I spoke out against the false claim that Georgia has systematic voter fraud.
“Their tragic predictions of the consequences of this law are simply baseless,” he added. “The next election will prove that, but I will not hold back from waiting for the left and the media to admit that they were wrong.”
The Georgian Republicans are likely to be embroiled in a vicious circle
Black leaders will not have to press the love button in Georgia, because that button was pressed long ago.
Georgia has some of the most organized and well-organized groups for Black voters, thanks to Stacey Abrams, who can be the smartest and strongest advocate for voting in the nation.
Many of these Black voters remember when Abrams lost a race close to the state of Georgia in 2018, a dirty race over allegations of voter oppression. Kemp, an opponent of Abrams, ran for the governor while holding his position as state electoral officer – a position many considered a conflict of interest.
The idea that the GOP is trying to suppress black voting will make Black voters in Georgia more willing to vote in 2022, when Abrams is expected to fight Kemp again, said Rev. Jamal Byrant, senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.
“Georgia is clearly becoming darker and more prosperous, and the Republicans are worried about the next imperial election and are trying their best to stem the tide,” Bryant said.
“You will see a lot of people voting for the first time, young voters and frustrated and privileged voters going back to the polls because they see what is at stake,” Bryant said.
There is evidence to support Bryant’s prediction. Growing research suggests that the adoption of voter ID laws can sometimes motivate Black voters and stimulate voter planning efforts.