Lawsuits are piling up over Georgia's racist voter suppression law

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Georgia was just hit with the fifth federal lawsuit against its new law that makes it harder to vote.

A trio of civic participation groups filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against Georgia's racist voter suppression law, alleging that its new measures create "deliberate barriers to voting," especially for people of color.

It's now the fifth lawsuit the state faces against the new omnibus law, which makes it harder to vote by limiting the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, requiring ID to vote by mail, and making it a crime to give out food and water to voters waiting in line to cast a ballot, among other provisions.

The latest lawsuit, however, targets a lesser-discussed provision of the law that makes it harder for third-party groups to give out absentee ballot request forms. The law bans third-party groups like VoteAmerica, Voter Participation Center, and Center for Voter Information — which filed the lawsuit — from giving out absentee ballot applications with information pre-filled out.

According to the Campaign Legal Center, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three groups, the new law also "imposes a $100 fine for every application sent by an organization to a person who has already requested, received or voted using an absentee ballot — a major financial disincentive for nonprofit groups trying to aid with getting absentee ballot applications to registered voters."

The lawsuit says that the new limits and fines may make it too costly or burdensome for the groups to operate in Georgia altogether, which could cause problems for voters in the state who rely on these groups to help navigate the absentee ballot system.

The CLC said in a statement:

Many Georgia voters rely on third party groups to provide them with prefilled and preprinted absentee ballot applications that they can easily review and submit to their county elections official without the need for a broadband internet connection or access to a printer or scanner at home. This was particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020/2021 election cycle, but remains the case for voters in rural areas, young voters and voters of color who often disproportionately lack the means or opportunity to obtain and prepare absentee ballot applications on their own.

This latest lawsuit adds to the mounting legal costs Georgia will incur to defend the law — which Georgia's own Republican lieutenant governor said is based on lies pushed by Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Georgia is already slated to lose millions of dollars, thanks to Major League Baseball's decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the voter suppression law.

The first lawsuit was filed the same day Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed the voter suppression measures into law. That lawsuit — filed by civil rights groups called the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise — alleges that the Georgia law is, "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."

A second lawsuit filed by another coalition of civil rights groups, voting rights groups, and a Native American tribe made similar allegations. The lawsuit reads, "Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voters of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color in order to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia."

Two other lawsuits were also filed against the state — one by Asian Americans Advancing Justice and another by the Sixth District African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Women Watch Afrika, the Latino Community Fund of Georgia, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Both lawsuits also allege that the law will disproportionally impact voters of color.

"SB 202 is an obvious attempt to roll back the clock to the racially restrictive voting practices of Georgia’s discredited past," the lawsuit from AAAJ reads. "That attempt should be categorically rejected."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.