Georgia Anti-Voter Line Relief Law Goes to Court

HEARING BEGINS ON PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION TO HALT GEORGIA’S BAN ON LINE RELIEF

Georgians call for an immediate end to line relief ban created by Georgia’s Anti Voter Law SB 202

On Monday, July 18, a hearing will begin for a preliminary injunction to halt the portion of Georgia’s S.B. 202 that criminalizes Georgians providing food, water, or other relief to their neighbors waiting in long voting lines. Georgians will demonstrate that the line relief ban has created cruel barriers to voting for communities of color, women, and people with disabilities, as well as diminishes their voices. Communities need immediate relief from the ban.

The preliminary injunction is part of the consolidated case: AME vs. Kemp

Background:
 
After Georgia voters turned out in record numbers for the 2020 presidential election and U.S. Senate elections in early 2021, state legislators passed S.B. 202, a sweeping — and unconstitutional — voting law that threatened to massively disenfranchise voters, particularly voters of color.
 
In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., and the law firms of Davis Wright Tremaine and WilmerHale filed AME vs. Kemp, challenging multiple provisions of S.B. 202 including:
 

  • A ban on “line relief,” where volunteers provide water and snacks to people waiting in long lines to vote, a common occurrence at precincts with a large population of voters of color. 
  • A severe restriction on the use of mobile voting units, which have been used to address a shortage of accessible and secure polling locations that previously resulted in long lines of voters at existing and traditional polling locations.  
  • Additional and onerous identification requirements for requesting and casting an absentee ballot. 
  • A compressed period for requesting absentee ballots. 
  • Restrictions on the use of secure ballot drop boxes. 
  • Disqualification of provisional ballots cast in a voter’s county of residence but outside the voter’s precinct before 5 p.m. Previously, votes for all the races to which the person was eligible to vote on that precinct’s provisional ballot were counted. 
  • A drastic reduction of early voting in runoff elections. 

The lawsuit describes how S.B. 202 violates voter protections under the 14th and 15th Amendments as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also outlines how the line relief ban violates the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. 

In May 2022, the plaintiffs and their attorneys filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to challenge certain barriers to voting, including restrictions on “line relief.” This would allow voting rights organizations to continue giving food and water to voters, as they did before S.B. 202. The Georgia organizations will continue to move towards a full trial on all their claims and seek complete relief for the various harms S.B. 202 creates for future elections.
 

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