The lawsuit will challenge several of the provisions in Georgia Senate Bill 202, according to the DOJ.
“The right of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “This lawsuit is the first step of many we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote; that all lawful votes are counted; and that every voter has access to accurate information.”
The provisions the DOJ will target include a ban on government entities from handing out unsolicited absentee ballots; fines on civic groups, places of worship and advocacy organizations groups for distributing follow-up absentee ballots; shortening absentee ballot deadlines to 11 days before Election Day and more, according to a press release.
“The right to vote is one of the most central rights in our democracy and protecting the right to vote for all Americans is at the core of the Civil Rights Division’s mission,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination. Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland holds a news conference to announce that the Justice Department will file a lawsuit challenging a Georgia election law that imposes new limits on voting, at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno
Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger condemned the lawsuit in Friday statements.
“This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start,” Kemp said. “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.”
Raffensberger out the Biden administration for doing “the bidding of Stacey Abrams and spreads more lies about Georgia’s election law.”
“Their lies already cost Georgia $100 million and got the President awarded with four Pinocchios. It is no surprise that they would operationalize their lies with the full force of the federal government. I look forward to meeting them, and beating them, in court,” he said.
The expected lawsuit comes two weeks after Garland said the Justice Department would scrutinize a wave of new laws in Republican-controlled states that tighten voting rules. He pledged to take action if prosecutors found unlawful activity.
Abrams tweeted about the news Friday, saying Americans of all races, parties and zip codes “have an ally on voting rights” in the Justice Department and thanked the attorney general.
The person who spoke to AP was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before the official announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The move also comes as pressure grows on the Biden administration to respond to GOP-backed laws being pushed in the states this year. An effort to overhaul election laws was blocked this week by Republican senators.
More than 20 GOP-led voting laws have passed in 14 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which researches voting and supports expanded access.
Georgia’s new voting law requires voter ID for mail-in ballots and limits the number of ballot drop boxes in Atlanta.
Under the bill, the GOP-dominated legislature gave itself greater influence over a state board that regulates elections and empowered that board to remove local election officials deemed to be underperforming.
That has raised concerns that the state board could intervene in the operations of Democratic-run county election offices in metro Atlanta, the state’s Democratic power center.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.