A New Era for Jim Crow: Voting Suppression Bill Passes; What That Means; Could it Happen Here?

Via Brian Kemp’s Twitter Account

What happened?

Surrounded by his all white, all male peers, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sat in front of a painting of Callaway plantation. It’s a place that was built on and succeeded entirely due to slavery. Outside of the Governor’s office, a Black woman, Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, was dragged away by police for knocking on the Governor’s door, forbidden from coming in. She has now been charged with two felonies.

Governor Kemp signed into law, SB 202, the “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” which massively restricts voting rights for Georgia citizens. It does several things, including things that are just outright cruel, such as making it a crime to provide water and food to those in line waiting to vote. It also changes voter ID laws to require identification for even absentee ballots. It also allows the state government to take over local election boards, because Republicans hate for big government, right? Oh, and of course, it limits ballot drop off boxes’ placement and time of use. How could it not?

Why did this happen?

Supposedly, the new law is a response to fraud and voting irregularities, both of which Georgia authority figures, including Governor Kemp, said did not occur. But that changed with a record turnout and the election of President Joe Biden.

When Democrats swept both U.S. Senate seats away from Republicans by choosing Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a runoff election, again with a massive voter turnout of people of color, Republicans saw the need for “reform.” In spite of no evidence of fraud, people of color voting in large numbers just would not do.

And Georgia is not alone in its attempt to restrict voting rights. There are hundreds of voter suppression bills under consideration in Republican-held statehouses across the country.

What do politicians have to say about it?

Stacey Abrams, the woman of color who created Fair Fight Action, is a Georgia Democrat who is prominent in the fight to get fair access to Georgia voters. She previously “lost” to Brian Kemp for the governorship, while Kemp was Secretary of State and thus in charge of actions including the closure of voting places that were in predominantly black areas, leaving some would-be voters in line for as much as ten hours. Abrams says, “Now, more than ever, Americans must demand federal action to protect voting rights as we continue to fight against these blatantly unconstitutional efforts that are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0

President Biden said, “Instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote.” He also called it, “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”

What has been the response outside of political circles?

There is talk of boycotts. James Mangold, the director of Logan, 310 to Yuma, and Girl Interrupted, said he wouldn’t film there. Previously, Georgia’s film industry has boycotted the state for its vile abortion restriction bill which banned the women’s healthcare procedure as soon as a heartbeat could be detected.


And while companies like Delta and Aflac have spoken out in favor of creating easier access to voting, they haven’t made any outright threats. In fact, many companies have donated large sums to Republican campaigns, including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and UPS. 

What can be done?

Unsurprisingly it’s complicated. A lot of terrible things can be traced back to when the U.S. Supreme Court dismembered the “Voting Rights Act,” which was created to prevent just this sort of thing.  The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a new bill, the “For the People Act,” which would expand voting rights. It does a lot of good things. It would allow same-day voter registration. It would also allow people 16 and 17 to preregister for upcoming elections, on the assumption they’d be turning 18 for them.

Should the Senate pass that law, there’s also the “Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019.” Between these two laws, much of the worst Governor Kemp and his cronies have done would disappear.

Currently, however, without 60 votes these laws can’t pass, because someone can say they’re going to filibuster, and that will actually be accepted as an actual filibuster. The best thing to do, and something I’m loathe to recommend except out of necessity, is to kill the filibuster, itself a remnant of Jim Crow.

Civil rights groups have already filed suit in Georgia in a fight that is likely to be protracted and ultimately, expensive for the state to defend.

Could it happen here?

Right now, anything similar to Georgia’s voter suppression law has no chance of passing here in Louisiana, not with John Bel Edwards as governor. However, should the next governor not be a Democrat, with Louisiana likely remaining under a Republican legislature, it seems a surety that such a bill would pass. It’s something to keep in mind for our next election a few years down the road. Republicans want other Republicans to vote and to win, and they will do everything they can to prevent other people from exercising their rights. A Republican elected is a vote suppressed.

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