State’s new voting laws, Jim Crow 2.0, to come under scrutiny by U.S. Attorney General
With Georgia’s new election laws already under attack from a bevy of lawsuits which claims it illegally discriminates against voters of color, the nation’s top law enforcement officer gave Georgia and Governor Brian Kemp something else to think about. He announced last week a review of new voting laws around the country that many say are being passed to limit the right to vote. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has pledged to scrutinize a series of election laws being approved that have critics labeling it Jim Crow 2.0. To support this review, Garland said the Justice Department would double the size of its voting rights enforcement staff over the next 30 days. Said Garland, “There are many things open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them.”
Though Garland did not single out Georgia, political watchers believe the state’s new election law likely will be a target of the review. In the wake of the November general election where Democrats won many of the top races and President Joe Biden won Georgia, a Republican led house and senate pushed Senate Bill 202 through the chambers of the gold dome without bipartisan support this legislative session. Gov. Brian Kemp promptly signed it into law.
Garland also pledged to examine post-election audits such as the kind occurring in Georgia. He will also investigate threats made against state and local election workers. Garland’s comments follow continued statements from former President Donald Trump who has falsely claimed that Joe Biden won because of widespread fraud. Numerous recounts, audits, investigations, and lawsuits have failed to verify Trumps’ claims. This did not stop Trump rioters from storming the capitol on January 6 or Republican-controlled states from imposing stricter voting rules.
Critics have likened Georgia’s new election statute, Senate Bill 202 to the Jim Crow laws governments around the country passed, especially those in the South, that made it harder for Black citizens to vote for nearly a century after the Civil War. Supporters of SB 202 say it is not discriminatory. They say comparisons to Jim Crow are offensive and designed to motivate Democratic voters in future elections.
While state officials, like Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr have defended the laws in court, Garland said the Justice Department would undertake its own review to determine whether state laws illegally discriminate against Black and brown voters. He will also examine disparate treatment of minorities — such as claims that minority voters wait in longer lines than white voters.
To ensure that states are following federal laws, Garland will add this to the list for review, along with threats against election officials such as those in Fulton County and other Georgia counties. Reuters reported recently that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s wife, Tricia Raffensperger, received text messages a few months ago saying, “you and your family will be killed very slowly.” This follows Raffensperger’s refusal to overturn the election results Trump had requested.