Georgia’s Election Bills Are a Thinly-Veiled Attempt to Maintain Power
ATLANTA – All Voting is Local Action Georgia state director Aklima Khondoker issued the following statement in response to the state legislature advancing House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 241, which brazenly gut Georgians’ voting accessibility:
“These new bills are a reprehensible power grab that were rushed through committee and never intended to solve the real issues that plagued our elections — like long lines, machine malfunctions, and staffing scarcities. Instead, they accommodate legislators’ political fragility and indulge the unfounded accusations of a scant few who fear impartial elections.
“Georgia voters turned out in November and January, making their voices heard through ballot drop boxes, expanded absentee voting, and increased early voting hours. That increased access empowered voters to change Georgia’s political landscape, and now, the legislature is trying to ensure it never happens again.
“Georgians must have the freedom to vote in the way that works best for them.”
Although two separate bills, HB 531 and SB 241 similarly repress voting access and do nothing to address the election problems during the 2020 primary and general election. Instead, the bills fulfill the wishes of the state’s Republican Party, which sought changes in response to baseless and reckless accusations.
Alarming New Georgia Bill Aims To Severely Restrict Voting Access
ATLANTA — All Voting is Local Action Georgia State Director Aklima Khondoker issued the following statement in response to Georgia House Bill 531, a sweeping bill that guts voting access, specifically removing Sunday early voting, a critical time Black religious communities cast their ballots during “souls to the polls.”
“Georgia Republican lawmakers are brazenly trying to silence voters through House Bill 531, which includes deliberate restrictions on early voting, absentee voting, and ballot drop boxes. This is a desperate attempt to solidify their own power by silencing others. Despite a global pandemic and repressive legislative attempts to block access to the ballot, record numbers of Georgians voted in 2020 using every method available, and now that accessibility is under attack.
“This bill targets all Georgians, and particularly punishes low-income voters, people in rural communities, the elderly, and religious communities of color. It’s critical that lawmakers reject this alarming legislation that aggressively limits voting in communities that have long suffered diminished access to the ballot.”
Georgia’s 2020 election cycle was marred by long lines, machine failures, lack of staff, and false allegations of voting irregularities. Rather than fix longstanding barriers to the ballot, the Special Committee on Election Integrity is pushing bills that restrict Georgians’ constitutional right to vote.
Specifically, HB 531:
- Restricts the placement of secure ballot drop boxes and reduces their availability to voters.
- Eliminates Sunday voting, known as ‘souls to the polls.’
- Cuts early voting hours to only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Limits the time that voters can request and return absentee ballots.
- Bans government agencies from sending ballot applications to voters.
- Forces voters to submit a copy of photo ID or a driver’s license or state ID number to vote absentee.
Pennsylvania Officials Must Uphold Democracy and the Will of the People
PHILADELPHIA— All Voting is Local Action – Pennsylvania State Director Scott Seeborg issued the following statement in response to Pennsylvania Senate Republicans refusal to swear-in their colleague, Jim Brewster, who won his state legislative seat in November’s general election:
“This is a miscarriage of democracy. Our Senate leaders in Harrisburg must heed the will of the people who voted for Sen. Jim Brewster and uphold the electoral process.
“You cannot undermine democracy to bolster your claim at legitimacy without undoing it for all Americans and seeding chaos. The people have spoken, the courts have spoken, and right now, we need the Pennsylvania Senate, led by Sen. Jake Corman, to end this frivolous charade and seat their colleague. Instead of rolling back voters’ access to the ballot, lawmakers must focus on rebuilding Pennsylvania’s fractured economy as their constituents continue to endure the COVID-19 pandemic. If not, they set a dangerous precedent. Voters choose who governs this country, not politicians. Voters will not be silenced.”
Georgia Voters Need Continuous Access to Ballot Drop Box, Not Party Politics
ATLANTA—All Voting is Local Action and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta issued the following statements in response to a lawsuit filed by the Republican National Committee and Georgia Republican Party seeking to limit ballot drop box access for Georgia voters.
Aklima Khondoker, Georgia state director, All Voting is Local Action:
“Scaling back the availability of ballot drop boxes, and by extension, voter accessibility amid a pandemic is unconscionable. Record numbers of Georgians opted to vote by mail in the June and November elections and sought a safe, secure, and dependable option to return their ballots. For many, ballot drop boxes filled that critical void and empowered Georgians to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“Reducing ballot drop box availability from 24 hours to ‘normal working hours’ is an affront to every Georgian who has to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. It punishes Georgians who work inflexible shifts and harms those who do not have the comfort or convenience to change their schedule unilaterally. Voting is a right for all of us, not just the privileged few.”
Stephanie Cho, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta:
“For the 44% of Asian American and Pacific Islander Georgians who are considered limited English proficient (LEP), language barriers already consistently eliminate their ability to fully participate in the voting process. The attempt to limit dropbox accessibility during our runoff elections is an attempt to create another barrier to voting for Georgia’s LEP and immigrant voters.”
All Voting is Local/All Voting is Local Action and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta have repeatedly called on Georgia’s elected officials to ensure voters have equitable access to ballot drop boxes. The Election Assistance Commission recommends a ratio of one ballot drop box per 15 to 20 thousand voters, yet few counties in Georgia have met that threshold.
Community Organizations Call for Immediate Action to Defend Democracy
PHOENIX—As of Thursday night, Arizona state lawmakers have introduced at least 34 bills that undermine democratic ideals and institutions, including bills to eliminate or restrict voting by mail, gut the grassroots ballot initiative process, criminalize protest, and give the state legislature the power to override the voters’ choice in presidential elections.
These proposals come just weeks after an armed attack on the U.S. Capitol that attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. That attack was sparked by lies about the 2020 election, which multiple sitting Arizona federal and state lawmakers helped to spread.
A list of the current bills can be found here. Given that the deadline to introduce legislation has not yet passed, additional bills are likely to be added in the coming days.
Some of these bills are moving quickly through the legislative process: SB1069, which would purge 100,000+ voters from the permanent vote by mail list, passed through a Senate committee last week and could pass the full Senate next week. 68% of registered voters in Arizona are on the permanent vote by mail list.
At least 12 other bills have been scheduled for hearings or assigned to committees.
In response to the proposed bills, a coalition of Arizona community organizations and voting rights groups issued the following statement:
“This is an incredibly alarming and urgent situation. Just weeks after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we are seeing our state legislature launch a full-scale attack on the foundations of our democracy. We are determined to stop these bills and to reaffirm our state’s commitment to democracy and free and fair elections. We ask all Arizonans to contact their legislators and demand that they protect democratic ideals and institutions.”
All Voting is Local Action Arizona
Arizona Advocacy Network
Arizona Center for Women’s Advancement
Arizona Students’ Association
Congregations Rising Arizona Organizing Neighborhoods (CORAZÓN)
Fuerte Arts Movement
Healthcare Rising Arizona
Human Rights Campaign
League of Women Voters of Arizona
Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)
Mi Familia Vota
National Council of Jewish Women Arizona
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition
Rural Arizona Action
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
Stand for Children Arizona
Lawsuit: Arizona Officials Lack Transparency in Jail Voting Procedures
ARIZONA—Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit seeking transparency about the extent to which county officials in Apache County, Arizona denied pre-trial detainees and individuals serving misdemeanor sentences the right to vote in the 2020 elections.
Over the last nine months, Apache County has ignored six public records requests seeking information that, by law, should be made available to the public. Apache County, however, is far from alone in failing to live up to its legal obligations to be transparent and accountable to the public.
CLC, as part of the Arizona Coalition to End Jail Based Disenfranchisement, has sent a total of 90 records requests to understand how many people in Arizona jails were being denied their constitutional right to vote across Arizona. As of today, 49 requests remain unanswered. Apache County is the only county that didn’t respond at all, violating Arizona public record law. They must explain the procedures that its recorder and sheriff follow to ensure that they are protecting the right of all citizens to vote.
Each night, more than 14,000 people are detained in county jails across Arizona. An estimated 60%, or 8,400, of those people are eligible to vote. People convicted of felonies lose their right to vote, but those who are held in pre-trial detention or are serving misdemeanor sentences retain their voting eligibility.
“Arizona is shielding the public from the full scope of its practice of disenfranchising people in the criminal justice system, a practice that hurts low-income people and people of color the most,” said Dana Paikowsky, Equal Justice Works fellow at CLC. “Citizens who are eligible to vote should never be denied their most fundamental right. Transparency is urgently needed to conduct public oversight so that Arizona can begin fixing its broken system.”
“Voting is a constitutional right that is not taken away when someone is jailed,” said Jared Keenan, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Arizona. “Government agencies have a responsibility to ensure people’s right to vote is protected even when they’ve been accused of a crime. We are demanding these public records to hold all Arizona counties accountable to that responsibility.”
“All eligible Arizona voters, including those in jail, should be able to cast a ballot that counts.” said Alex Gulotta, Arizona state director at All Voting Is Local, a member of the Arizona Coalition to End Jail Based Disenfranchisement. “The public deserves to know if the right to vote is being upheld by Apache County. Any effort to obscure or deny transparency is a threat to democracy for all Arizonans.”
According to a report released by the coalition in July 2020, only seven incarcerated voters cast a ballot in Arizona’s March presidential primary out of an estimated 2,700 eligible incarcerated voters.