Georgia’s voting laws remain Jim Crow 2.0 despite record Black turnout, organization says

Secretary of State’s office reporting no signs of voter fraud or suppression
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 1:57 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - More than 500,000 Georgians have cast ballots so far in the state’s historic 2022 midterms, including record numbers of African American votes.

But despite this historic turnout, Georgia’s voter laws are still restricting the African American vote, according to one of the co-founders of Black Voters Matter.

“Absolutely, Georgia’s voting laws are still an example of Jim Crow 2.0,” said LaTosha Brown, who, along with Cliff Albright, began Black Voters Matter in 2016. “When I can’t go to a voting site and hand out water; when another voter can look at me and challenge whether I’m a legitimate voter, these are examples of more sophisticated tools being used to marginalize voters that create restricted access to ballots and create a culture of fear.”

Full coverage of Georgia’s 2022 midterms

Through four days, Interim Deputy Secretary of State Gabe Sterling said there are no signs of voter suppression.

“Essentially, voter suppression isn’t real,” said Sterling. “It’s as real as voter fraud is,” adding Georgia is “absolutely on a pace to break all kinds of records for this midterm election.”

On Friday morning, Black Voters Matter, 501(c)(4) voting rights and community empowerment organization, said Black voters comprised 35% of all those who turned out to vote over early voting’s first four days. 

Brown said Black voters are casting ballots in spite of GOP efforts, including from Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to suppress their vote through SB 202, which was passed after the state’s results in the highly controversial 2020 presidential election.

In its statement, Black Voters Matter said “the Black male vote total was 46,016, in comparison to 38,792 in 2018.

“We at Black Voters Matter never doubted the commitment of Black voters to use the ballot box to bring about change.”

Read the full text of SB 202 here

Despite the high turnout, Brown said there is no hypocrisy between her organization’s continuing criticism of Georgia’s voting laws and high Black voter turnout.

“That is coming from people who don’t understand racism or the Black experience,” she said. “For all of the voter suppression that has taken place in this state, you’ve seen civic engagement groups respond en masse. We have been doing the work, organizing voters. There’s been a tremendous amount of time and resources and human capital that has been happening continuously to minimize SB 202′s impact on our community.”

RELATED: Four constitutional amendments are being decided by Georgians right now

Georgia’s 2022 midterm election is entering its final weeks, with Kemp continuing to lead Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in the nation’s most watched governor’s race. Abrams is seeking to unseat Kemp and become the nation’s first Black female governor, while Kemp is seeking his second, and final, term.

Also on the ballot is a race that could determine the U.S. Senate’s balance of power. Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock is in a statistical dead heat with Republican challenger Herschel Walker.