WASHINGTON – The US Justice Department will file a lawsuit on Friday (June 25) challenging a Georgia election law that imposes new limits on voting, calling it a violation of civil rights, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
The Georgia law is one of a wave of new measures passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year, fueled by former president Donald Trump’s false claims that his November election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.
“The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Garland said. “We are scrutinising new laws that seek to curb voter access and when we see violations of federal law, we will act.”
After a sweeping Democratic-sponsored bill aimed at protecting access to the ballot died on a party-line vote in the Senate this week, US President Joe Biden vowed to take other steps to protect voting rights.
The Republican governors of Arizona, Florida and Iowa have also signed new voting restrictions this year, while state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Texas are trying to advance similar measures.
The Georgia law, signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, tightened absentee ballot identification requirements, restricted ballot drop-box use and allowed a Republican-controlled state agency to take over local voting operations. The state was a key battleground in the 2020 presidential election.
President Biden, who became the first Democratic presidential candidate in three decades to win Georgia, has staunchly criticised Georgia’s new law, calling it an”atrocity”.
Trump repeatedly sought to pressure election officials in Georgia after losing the state to Biden. In a phone call to the secretary of state, Trump asked him to “find” the votes that would be needed to overturn his election loss.
He also pressured the Justice Department to oust the US Attorney in the Atlanta region. His actions are now under investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.