Impact of Georgia Voting Laws on Black Voters
This week, several of the most heavily scrutinized new voting laws from the voter suppression bill passed in Georgia went into effect. While supporters of the bill claim that it was enacted in the name of election security, the laws included in the bill are much more aligned with suppressing the rights and turnout of Black voters. One of the laws that went into effect this week was the new absentee ID law, which requires Georgia voters to provide a number from their state-issued ID or driver’s license in order to obtain an absentee ballot.
Unfortunately, these strict new ID requirements are certain to limit access to absentee voting, with an outsized impact on Black voters. According to election data, Black voters are much less likely than white voters to have voter registrations matched to an ID number. There are more than 272,000 registered voters that don’t have a state ID or driver’s license on file in the state of Georgia. While 30% of Georgia’s state registered voters are Black, they account for approximately 56% of registrants without an ID.
Many supporters of the law argue that an ID is “easy” to obtain, however, this is simply not the case for many people. State-issued IDs are not readily accessible for many people due to a variety of factors including financial hardship, lack of access to required documents, and lack of transportation. As various studies have shown, Black voters are less likely to have an ID than white voters, which means a law of this kind will most certainly affect Black voters disproportionately.
“SB 202 is already hurting Georgians’ access to the ballot — with particular harm to voters of color in our state who disproportionately voted by mail. There is no justification for these restrictions on the freedom to vote in Georgia.” - Seth Bringman, spokesman for Fair Fight Action
In addition to the absentee ID law, the bill passed earlier this year enacted other restrictions that would adversely affect Black voters, including shortened windows to request absentee ballots and a restriction on the number of drop boxes available. Fortunately, the federal government is suing the state of Georgia in an attempt overturn these new election laws. The lawsuit was filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the grounds that the new laws would adversely affect Black voters, which is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Georgia is not the only state that has recently rolled out legislation of this kind, with hundreds of bills being put forward in states across the country. This week, the Supreme Court put forth a ruling which upheld similar voting restrictions in the state of Arizona that discriminate against minority voters. This decision by the Supreme Court will make it much more challenging for the DOJ to win their suit against the state of Georgia, as it determined how a crucial aspect of the Voting Rights Act applies to voting restrictions that have a disproportionate impact on people of color.
Get to the point: A voter suppression bill was passed in the state of Georgia earlier this year, with several of the laws going into effect this week. These laws, which aim to suppress the rights and turnout of Black voters, include strict ID requirements, limitations on drop box locations, and shortened windows for requesting absentee ballots. The federal government is suing the state of Georgia over the bill on the grounds that the laws would adversely impact Black voters, which is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. Unfortunately, a recent Supreme Court ruling will make it more challenging for the Department of Justice to win their case against Georgia, as the decision limits how the Voting Rights Act will apply to voting restrictions that have a disproportionate impact on people of color going forward.