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Georgia Republicans’ Shameful Anti-Voting Bill Is Now Law

It's literally a crime to give water to voters.

A table lined with Georgia voter stickers on a peach logo

Having seen what can happen when systemically marginalized groups of voters are engaged and mobilized and have access to voting resources, Georgia lawmakers are working hard to make sure that never happens again.

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State lawmakers have passed a bill, quickly signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp, that makes it drastically more difficult for people to vote, in ways that will disproportionately affect poor voters and people of color. It’s being called Jim Crow 2.0. During his press conference Thursday, President Biden said the new law “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” (Presumably meaning it makes Jim Crow look patriotic, as a Google search for the term only brought up results for Biden’s own quote and one real estate agent named Jim Eagle who was quick to capitalize on the accidental shout-out by learning how SEO works real quick.)

Here are just some of the limitations enacted by this new law:

–It makes it incredibly difficult to vote by provisional ballot. If a person shows up to the wrong precinct in their country, they’re supposed to be able to cast a provisional ballot. Now that vote won’t be counted unless it is after 5pm and that person signs an affidavit swearing they’re unable to make it to the correct precinct, and they have to give a reason why. They also have to fill out a number of forms with information like when and where they registered to vote. (Personally, I don’t have that information ready to go off the top of my head.)

–They’ve eliminated (or at least supplemented) the extremely problematic signature-matching process that sees tons of absentee ballots thrown out every election, but replaced it with much stricter identification requirements that will make it harder for people to vote by mail. An estimated 200,000 potential voters in the state do not have a driver’s license or state ID number, which would prohibit them from voting.

–It limits the availability of drop-boxes for absentee ballots and strips the secretary of state of a good amount of authority over the election processes.

–It shortens the period between general elections and runoff elections from nine weeks to four.

–One of the cruelest parts of the bill is that it makes it illegal to hand out food or water (or “gifts” of any sort) to people standing in line to vote. Lines in some precincts–specifically in majority-BIPOC and lower-income areas–are known to have hours-long lines. It’s now a crime to bring those people water.

(Also, remember, if you wait in line for six hours at the wrong precinct but reach the end before 5pm, no provisional ballot for you. You have to go do it again somewhere else.)

The new law is already facing legal challenges, as voting rights groups filed a lawsuit just hours after Kemp signed the bill into law.

Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon, a 5 foot 2 Black woman, was arrested for knocking on Kemp’s office door at the state Capitol while he was signing the legislation Thursday evening.

As she was being taken away, she repeatedly identified herself as a lawmaker, and later said she was arrested for “fighting voter suppression.” Her charges carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.

(image: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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