ATLANTA — On the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a new Brennan Center for Justice report laid out how Georgia Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights “will harm Black voters most” thanks to targeted provisions that disproportionately affect minority communities.
As the Brennan Center report details, draconian provisions in major GOP-backed legislative proposals like both HB 531 and SB 241 would disproportionately hurt Black Georgians because these bills attack voting methods used by those same voters. By enacting devastating restrictions on mail-in voting for younger Georgians, SB 241’s provisions “seem especially likely to hurt Black voters, who used mail ballots at far higher rates last year than ever before.”
And HB 531’s specific attacks on weekend voting target a critical way many Black voters exercise their right to cast a ballot. According to the report, restricting the ability of counties to hold early voting days on the weekend — including on Sunday — “would disproportionately impact Black Georgians” considering the “clear racial divisions” in the use of weekend voting.
Given Georgia Republicans’ insistence on attacking the voting rights of Black Georgians, this report once again makes it more clear than ever how urgent it is for Congress to act on HR 1 and HR 4 to safeguard all Georgians’ right to vote.
Read more from the Brennan Center about how Republicans are trying to roll back Black voting rights in Georgia:
Brennan Center for Justice: Georgia’s Proposed Voting Restrictions Will Harm Black Voters Most
By Kevin Morris
- We have seen a rush of anti-voter bills introduced in the wake of the 2020 presidential election all around the country.
- Georgia Republicans have introduced regressive legislation that would eliminate automatic voter registration in the state (a policy that has boosted registrations enormously) and are seeking to make voting by mail far more difficult.
- Given the dynamics of the 2020 election, the restrictions to voting by mail seem especially likely to hurt Black voters, who used mail ballots at far higher rates last year than ever before.
- Although white voters still made up a majority of mail voters, their share of the vote-by-mail electorate dropped from 67 percent in 2016 to 54 percent in 2020; the Black share, meanwhile, surged from 23 percent to 31 percent.
- Under these proposals, older voters — who according to CNN exit polls supported Republicans at higher rates in 2020 — would continue to have unrestricted access to vote-by-mail.
- Because older Georgians are whiter than younger Georgians, the legislation restricting mail voting for younger voters disproportionately benefits white voters.
- House Bill 531 — which passed in the Georgia House on Monday — contains many restrictive provisions, such as shrinking the absentee ballot application window and limiting the hours during which mail ballot drop boxes can be open.
- Sundays have historically been important turnout days for Black Americans, as Black churches organize “Souls to the Polls” drives.
- Black voters (who make up 30 percent of the registered electorate) accounted for 36.5 percent of Sunday voters, but just 26.8 percent of early in-person voters on other days.
- Barring counties from holding early in-person voting on Sundays would disproportionately impact Black Georgians.
- The state is considering restricting mail voting in response to a shift in the racial demographics of the voters who use it, but wants to keep mail voting available for older, whiter mail voters.
- The same is true for early in-person voting: Republicans in the Peach State want to end Sunday voting, a day disproportionately popular among Black voters.
- Voter suppression is always unacceptable, and the razor thin political margins in Georgia may mean that suppression efforts like these will change political outcomes. Rather than imposing barriers, Georgia should be looking at ways to improve voter access.