Black, Hispanic groups challenge new Georgia election law

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Minority groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union sued Georgia officials this week over the state’s new election laws that require a photo ID to get an absentee ballot and other measures, which the lawsuit charged would disenfranchise Black and Hispanic voters.

It’s the second federal lawsuit filed against the new provisions in less than a week.

“This law is driven by blatant racism, represents politics at its very worst, and is clearly illegal,” said Sophia Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “We urge the court to act swiftly to strike it down.”

Georgia last year voted Democrat in the presidential election for the first time since 1992 and was the site of unsuccessful Republican or pro-Trump legal challenges to the results. The new Republican-backed law puts the state again on the front lines of a national partisan showdown, this time over how America runs its elections.

President Biden called Georgia’s new laws an “atrocity.”

The newest legal challenge, filed in Georgia on Monday, takes issue with the photo ID requirement, restrictions on the time for requesting absentee ballots and limits on where ballot drop boxes can be placed.

The lawsuit also objected to a new ban on handing out food and water to people waiting in line to vote.

“These provisions will affect all Georgia voters. But consistent with Georgia’s long and ongoing record of discrimination, the burdens will be disproportionately felt by voters of color, especially Black voters,” said the lawsuit.

The 91-page complaint said the restrictions run afoul of the Constitution. The groups said minorities have increased difficulty in obtaining photo identification and also are forced to wait in long lines.

Other civil rights groups launched a separate lawsuit against Georgia’s new election law last week.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger defended the state’s new voter rules, saying Democrats are using partisan talking points to attack election requirements.

“The cries of ‘voter suppression’ from those on the left ring as hollow as the continuously debunked claims of ‘mass voter fraud’ in Georgia’s 2020 election,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “We don’t have systemic voter suppression, and we don’t have mass voter fraud. What we have is systemic lies for political gain that have led to a loss of public confidence in our elections.”

The rewrite of Georgia election laws passed in a party-line vote, and has outraged Democrats and voting right activists who say Republicans are trying to curtail the access to vote.

They’ve also eyed laws passed by other GOP state legislatures.

Iowa recently enacted a law that limits early voting and requires polling sites to close an hour earlier. Civil rights groups have challenged Iowa’s law in the courts, too.

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