ATLANTA — Yesterday, Fair Fight Action and other voting rights advocacy organizations hosted a virtual press conference on Georgia House Republicans’ 93-page long substitute to SB 202, pushed by Representative Barry Fleming before a key committee meeting to try and ram through the GOP’s anti-voting agenda.
Republicans’ substitute of SB 202 not only includes a false and misleading preamble promoting the Big Lie and election conspiracy theories but would lead to longer lines and more restrictive rules for absentee ballots while limiting weekend voting and threatening Georgians’ privacy by creating new risks of identity theft just to request a mail-in ballot. This substitute also includes new, unprecedented state legislature power over elections and the State Election Board while stripping voters of representation.
Fair Fight Action was joined in the press conference opposing Republicans’ dangerous and reckless anti-voter push by the Georgia NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Action Fund, the ACLU of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, the Georgia AFL-CIO, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Black Voters Matter Fund, Poder Latinx, Common Cause Georgia, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“Georgia is united against these bills,” said Fair Fight Action’s Organizing Director Hillary Holley. “It is a complete insult that on the day after a brutal mass shooting of Asian American women, that we are also having to fight and deal with last minute attempts to introduce 90-page bills that will impact Asian American voters, Latinx voters, and Black voters the most.”
“Seeing a bill of this magnitude and volume and not having but an hour to be able to analyze it, only an hour before commentary is presented on behalf of a committee is quite frankly outrageous and immoral,” said Georgia NAACP President James Woodall.
“It is the provisions of SB 241 that was passed out of the Senate, it is HB 531, with additional provisions that we had not seen in these two different bills, all combined together in a way that was undemocratic and rushed and will continue to be rushed as we it move through the legislature over these next few days,” said SPLC Action Fund staff attorney Poy Winichakul.
“This is disgraceful. This is not evidence-based policy making,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young. “This is not how laws should be made that govern our most precious right – that is, our right to vote.”
“I have been doing election protection work for 20 years – more than 20 years – and I have never seen a legislative session like this, where misinformation is the basis for everything that is introduced as law,” said Georgia Coalition of the People’s Agenda Executive Director Helen Butler
“Georgians are being undermined by this bill,” said Georgia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Yvonne Brooks. “In our lifetime, we have been moving, we have been working with families to give them better access to the polls and their votes. Now that we have successfully helped educate Georgians – working people – now they want to take those rights away.”
“We stand here today in opposition to everything that is taking place in this legislation – in a process that is not transparent,” said Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights community organizer Geovani Serrano “As the previous speaker mentioned, they released the substitute an hour before the hearing – how are we going to have enough time to analyze it and see how it would impact voters?”
“What we have seen, after these historic wins in November, and historic turnout in November and again in January from Black voters, what the backlash has been: the sponsors of these bills and their supporters have been silent on the insurrection that happened at the Capitol, but they have been very vocal in attacking our voting rights,” said Black Voters Matter Senior State Coordinator Fenika Miller.
“Georgia Republicans are working nonstop to make sure that the Latinx and people of color’s vote in Georgia is suppressed,” said Poder Latinx Organizing Coordinator Isabel Hidalgo.
“If we want to make Georgia a place where we are open for business, as we like to say, let’s make it a place where we are open for Georgians to be activated voters,” said Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis.
“After record voter turnout in the 2020 general election and the 2021 runoff, the Georgia legislature has responded to the increase in Black voter power with a wave of voter suppression bills introduced with little-to-no public notice or opportunities for voters themselves to weigh in. The latest affront to voters’ rights is S.B. 202, which combines nearly all of the elements of previous voter suppression bills. S.B. 202 poses an intolerable threat to Georgia voters because it would impose unnecessary barriers and burdens that would disproportionately impact voters of color. Georgia legislators should be harnessing the mandate to expand equitable and meaningful voting options. That goal can only be accomplished by rejecting voter suppression bills like S.B. 202,” said NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Associate Director-Counsel Janai Nelson.
“The League of Women Voters of Georgia (LWVGA) is committed to the active & informed participation of Georgians in the political process,” said LWVGA President Susannah E. Scott. “The ability to meaningfully engage with our legislators about key legislation that will have significant impacts on Georgia voters is severely undermined when legislators make major changes to legislation and share it with fellow legislators and the public at the last minute. LWVGA condemns the decision of the House Special Committee on Election Integrity to offer a 93 page substitution to SB202 an hour before today’s committee hearing. Fellow legislators should be afforded ample time to review such an extensive bill, as should the public, who will be heavily affected by this bill, if adopted. LWVGA calls on the members of the House Special Committee on Election Integrity to vote no to this bill.”
Watch the full press conference here.