03/26/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/26/2018 09:10
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, New Georgia Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta and Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials issued a letter to the Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston and other members of the Georgia General Assembly condemning Georgia Senate Bill 363 as a blatant voter suppression tactic aimed at minority voters ahead of the important upcoming midterm elections. A copy of the letter can be found here.
'Georgia Senate Bill 363 is a blatant attempt to suppress minority voter turnout on the eve of important midterm elections in Georgia,' said Julie Houk, Senior Special Counsel in the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 'Instead of spending the state's limited resources to ensure that all eligible Georgians, including people of color, have fair and equal access to the ballot box, some members of the Georgia General Assembly are instead focused upon erecting unnecessary barriers to limit access and make voting more difficult - especially for minority voters, said Houk.
According to Helen Butler, the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, 'SB 363 would allow for only a single weekend day of early voting three weeks before a primary or general election.' 'By design, SB 363 is a direct attack on successful minority voter participation programs, such as, 'Souls to the Polls,' and would also make weekday voting more difficult for Atlanta voters because it shortens the poll hours from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Georgia's most populous and majority African American city,' said Butler. 'To do this on the eve of the midterm election cycle is unconscionable and un-democratic.
'Weekend early voting has been very popular in Georgia, particularly with minority and less affluent voters, because it offers them a convenient alternative to casting ballots during the week when they have other priorities, such as work, school, childcare and transportation issues, said Phyllis Blake, President of the Georgia NAACP. 'SB 363 is clearly intended to negatively impact minority voters who rely upon weekend early voting to cast ballots,' said Blake.
Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta, said this about the bill: 'SB 363 is unfortunately yet another attempt by Georgia lawmakers to make voting less accessible to our communities. Advancing Justice-Atlanta will continue to push back against practices that disenfranchise the members of our community who already fight to have their voices heard.'
'Our elected representatives should be focused upon ensuring that all Georgians - including voters of color and voters from underserved communities - have convenient access to the ballot box,' said Nse Ufot, Executive Director of the New Georgia Project. Ufot also noted, 'Sadly, SB 363 is yet another attempt to chip away at early voting in Georgia as a voter suppression tactic.'
'SB 363 does nothing to enhance the voting experience for Georgians; rather, it will force voters who have busy schedules and other weekday obligations to vote during the week when they will likely face longer lines and delays because of the substantial reduction of weekend early voting opportunities. This shortsighted bill, the clear purpose of which is minority voter suppression, will also negatively impact local election officials who will be forced to scramble to implement these changes just as they are preparing the start of a busy midterm election period,' said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of 'Moving America Toward Justice.' The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.
For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.