Just hours after the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature passed a sweeping voting restrictions bill, Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law on Thursday evening.
The legislation imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s qualifications, cuts the runoff election period from nine to four weeks, shortens the time voters have to request an absentee ballot, and even criminalizes giving food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.
“Significant reforms to our state elections were needed,” Kemp told the media after signing the bill on Thursday night. “There’s no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled, and those problems, understandably, led to a crisis of confidence.”
Dist. 58 Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (D), whose district includes East Atlanta, Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, Edgewood, Grant Park, and Kirkwood, was removed from the State Capitol during protests over the governor signing controversial voter reform into law. Video posted on social media showed Cannon knocking on Kemp’s office door at the capitol while he was addressing the media.
Republicans pushed through the voting reform after Georgia saw record voter turnout in November that helped elect President Joe Biden and flip the U.S. Senate blue during a runoff in January.
Biden compared Georgia and other Republican-controlled state legislatures pushing for voting restrictions to the Jim Crow era.
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick,” Biden said during a Thursday press conference.