Biden: DOJ ‘Taking a Look’ at Georgia’s Newly Enacted Election Reform Law
The Biden administration is looking at options to reverse or counter a newly enacted voting law in Georgia that brings in a sweeping number of election reforms to the state.
President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that the Justice Department and his administration are “taking a look” at the legislation, which he claims is an “attack on the right to vote” in the Peach State.
“We’re working on that right now. We don’t know quite exactly what we can do at this point. The Justice Department’s taking a look as well,” Biden said.
In a separate statement on Friday, Biden characterized the state’s move to protect the sanctity of the ballot box as “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.” He also labeled the law as the “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” referring to Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the south.
The 95-page law adds a slew of changes to the way Georgians vote, including requiring photo or state-approved identification to vote absentee by mail. The law also mandates that secure drop boxes be placed inside early voting locations, with constant surveillance, and expand early voting across the state.
The law also shortens the election cycle from nine weeks to four weeks and requires a minimum of one week of early voting before election day. People who wish to vote absentee are faced with new requirements as well.
Biden claims that some of the new measures such as “reducing the number of polling sites across the state” would disproportionately [affect] black neighborhoods,” without elaborating on the details of alleged discrimination.
He took the opportunity to urge Congress to pass the controversial H.R. 1 bill, known as the For the People Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that Democrats say provides more voting access. Republicans and critics have raised concerns about the H.R. 1 bill, arguing that it would eviscerate ballot security measures, transferring the authority of how elections are administered from the states to the federal government, and shields non-citizens from prosecution if they are registered to vote automatically.
H.R. 1 has passed the House in a party-line vote, and is facing an uphill battle in the upper chamber as Senate Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to overcome the filibuster.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has responded to Biden’s statement saying that “there is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot.”
The law, Kemp said, “expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity,” according to a statement sent to The Epoch Times.
This comes after several voting rights advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other officials to challenge the Georgia law. The groups alleged that the law suppresses voting rights and would disproportionately burden the state’s minority, young, poor, and disabled citizens.
The groups have taken issue with some of the measures to increase election integrity arguing that identification requirements for absentee voting are “unnecessary and burdensome,” and placing absentee drop boxes inside early voting location would “unduly restrict” voting. The lawsuit also argues that prohibiting the state from distributing unsolicited absentee ballot applications, and prohibiting third-parties from collecting absentee ballot applications—which Republicans says could result in ballot harvesting—represents voter suppression.
The lawsuit also claims banning non-poll workers from giving food or drink to voters waiting in line is a form of voter suppression. The Georgia law stipulates that individuals are not allowed to solicit votes by distributing campaign materials, or gifts or offer to give money or gifts including food and drink in the vicinity of the polling place, including the polling line.
“These provisions lack any justification for their burdensome and discriminatory effects on voting,” the groups argue in their lawsuit.
“Instead, they represent a hodgepodge of unnecessary restrictions that target almost every aspect of the voting process but serve no legitimate purpose or compelling state interest other than to make absentee, early, and election-day voting more difficult—especially for minority voters.”
The lawsuit is seeking a declaration that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and a federal voting law, and is seeking to block the law from being enforced.
Raffensperger’s press office did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.