Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) suggested on Friday that an overhaul of election rules in his state is not as racist as it seems, declaring there is “nothing ‘Jim Crow'” about requiring voter identification to submit an absentee ballot.
The comments come after President Joe Biden earlier on Friday challenged the state’s new voting law which heightens ID requirements for absentee voting, limits drop box use and prohibits the distribution of food and drinks for voters waiting in line, “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
“You obviously haven’t read the bill,” Kemp said hours after signing a bill passed by Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature. “There’s nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring voter ID to submit an absentee ballot,” he added.
You obviously haven’t read the bill.
SB 202 expands voting access, streamlines procedures, and ensures election integrity.
There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring voter ID to submit an absentee ballot – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person. https://t.co/1QiVVnUlXD
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) March 27, 2021
In a statement Friday, the President chastised Republicans for favoring efforts to deny Georgia voters access to the ballot over “celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas.”
“This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” Biden said urging Congress to pass the For the People Act — which would override some of the new law’s restrictions.
In an earlier statement defending the bill on Friday, Kemp accused Biden of trying to destroy the security of Georgia elections.
“President Biden the left and the national media are determined to destroy the sanctity and security of the ballot box,” Kemp said.
“As Governor, I won’t back down from keeping Georgia elections secure, accessible and fair,” he added.
Black community groups on Friday quickly filed a lawsuit challenging some of its provisions, which the groups have said are unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The Philly Inquirer also pointed out that Kemp has signed the measure that is anticipated to limit Black voting in the Peach State under the painting of a famous slave plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), separately issued a statement Friday brushing off claims about voter suppression.
“We don’t have systemic voter suppression, and we don’t have mass voter fraud,” he said of Georgia elections. “What we have is systemic lies for political gain that have led to a loss of public confidence in our elections.”
Raffensperger had also penned an op-ed published Friday, rebuking HR1, a bill passed by the House earlier this month aimed at expanding voting rights.
Together with the state’s governor, Raffensperger was met with contempt in the wake of the 2020 presidential election last year for refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump and his allies efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in the state.
The new Georgia legislation targets Raffensperger in particular, demoting him from chair of the state board of elections to a non-voting member, and letting the legislature choose the state board’s chair instead.