Nixing Sunday early voting targets 'Souls to the Polls' events organized by Black churches, which take parishioners to vote after services.
Georgia Republicans on Thursday officially introduced a sweeping bill aimed at making it harder to vote. Aside from making it more difficult to vote by mail also seeks to suppress the Black vote by eliminating early voting on Sundays.
Voting rights groups say nixing Sundays from the early voting period specifically targets Black voters, who organize "Souls to the Polls" events — where they bring parishioners to vote after services wrap up on the Sunday before an election.
"Many of the proposed changes would undoubtedly suppress eligible voters, especially burdening minority voters in Georgia," Democracy Docket, a voting rights group launched by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, wrote in a news release after the bill's introduction.
Republicans have been talking for months about requiring ID to vote by mail, as well as their desire to make it harder to cast absentee ballots — provisions that were included in the legislation released on Thursday.
But the elimination of Sunday early voting days appears to come as a surprise — and has led to an outcry from voting rights activists.
Common Cause Georgia, a group that seeks to make it easier to vote, said in a news release that the bill "is Jim Crow with a suit and tie."
Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group launched by former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, tweeted that the bill would, "have devastating consequences for voting rights in Georgia."
"It is absolutely unacceptable that legislators, voting rights advocates, and the people of Georgia have been blindsided by its release," the group added.
The move targeting Black voters comes after President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the state, becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Georgia since 1992. It also comes after Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Georgia's two Republican senators in runoff elections.
Republicans in other states have tried to eliminate Sunday early voting in the past, but have been thwarted in the effort either by an outcry from voting rights groups or by federal courts, which blocked the voter suppression laws.
For example, Florida — where the "Souls to the Polls" movement began in the 1990s — eliminated Sunday early voting in 2014. But it was reinstated in 2016 after pressure from civil rights advocates.
And a federal appeals court in 2016 struck down a Republican voter suppression law in North Carolina that also sought to eliminate Sunday early voting, saying that the law appeared to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision."
Georgia's voter suppression bill is one of 165 pieces of legislation introduced by Republican state lawmakers looking to make it harder to vote following Trump's loss in 2020.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.