The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit to overturn Georgia’s new election law.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the federal lawsuit will seek to overturn part of  Senate Bill 202, which 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.

Seven lawsuits – including a joint one filed by New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise – have been filed by various nonprofits and voting rights groups to overturn the state’s voting law.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed Senate Bill 202 into law, issued this statement concerning the federal lawsuit: “This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start. Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and their allies tried to force an unconstitutional elections power grab through Congress – and failed. Now, they are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy. As Secretary of State, I fought the Obama Justice Department twice to protect the security of our elections – and won. I look forward to going three for three to ensure it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia.”

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the following statement: “Georgia Senate Bill 202, and dozens like it across the country, represent a coordinated assault on voting rights and protections—disproportionately affecting communities of color and other minority groups. Thank you to the Department of Justice and the leadership of US Attorney General Merrick Garland for fighting for the fundamental right of equal access to the political process for all Georgians.”

Stacy Abrams, whose nonprofit Fair Fight has led the charge in Georgia for voting rights, issued this statement following the lawsuit announcement: “I commend Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for taking bold action to combat restrictions on Georgians’ freedom to vote. Senate Bill 202 in Georgia and similar anti-voter bills being passed around the country undermine our democracy and restrict access in ways that target voters of color. This lawsuit takes aim at the discriminatory provisions outlined in SB 202, specifically, banning distribution of water and snacks, restricting access to drop boxes, shortening periods for voting by mail, throwing out eligible votes and creating unacceptably long lines. I also applaud the Department of Justice for announcing a taskforce to protect elections workers from increasing, anti-democratic threats, as well as for the guidance his agency is issuing to stop partisan, sham ‘audits,’ which undermine our institutions and advance the Big Lie. This lawsuit by the Department of Justice is a critical step towards protecting our democracy and the freedom to vote, but additional federal action is necessary, and that is why we urge Congress to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.