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(June 25) The Justice Department is filing a lawsuit against a sweeping new Republican-backed voting law in Georgia that critics say represents intentional discrimination against Black voters and is unconstitutional, according to a U.S. official.
The bill is a massive rewrite of Georgia’s election law, imposing new voter identification requirements, allowing state officials to take over local elections boards, limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, shortening the absentee voting window and making it illegal to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
The law, signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, drew immediate backlash from civil rights groups and major corporations, including the NAACP and Delta Air Lines Inc. Major League Baseball also moved to take this year’s All-Star Game and the MLB Draft event from Atlanta to show its concern over the legislation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said earlier this month that the Justice Department will double the staff working on voting rights issues within 30 days and provide new guidance on early voting, mail-in voting and post-election audits, saying the actions are needed to safeguard Americans’ basic right to choose their government.
In an address to the department’s workforce, Garland criticized ad-hoc audits of the 2020 election, such as a controversial recount underway in Arizona, that he said were based on accusations already rejected by the courts.
“We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act,” Garland said.
But some provisions were softened or dropped in an almost 100-page last minute compromise — largely with the business community — that whipped through both chambers of the legislature in just one week.
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