A question looming over the last four years — whether Trumpism would outlast Trump — was answered emphatically with the passage of a new law in Georgia curbing voting access for state residents, redefining a national debate on terms dictated by the former president.
The measure, passed weeks after former President Donald J. Trump tried to overturn President Biden's victory in the state, was very much in line with Mr. Trump's false claims that expanded voter access had led to widespread fraud and, in turn, his defeat.
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Biden condemned the law as "un-American" and "Jim Crow in the 21st century."
"It's an atrocity," he told reporters outside the White House before leaving for Delaware. "If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote. You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting."
Asked after landing in Delaware whether the White House could do anything to safeguard voting rights in Georgia, the president responded: "Well, we're working on that right now. We don't know quite exactly what we can do at this point. The Justice Department's taking a look as well." He did not specify whether law enforcement officials were examining the new law itself.
The law, signed on Thursday by the Republican governor, Brian Kemp — who was browbeaten by Mr. Trump for not supporting the effort to overturn the election — introduces more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limits drop boxes and expands the legislature's power over elections.
It will have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of Georgia's population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic.
The legislation followed Democratic victories that flipped the state at the presidential and Senate levels, and was part of a national push in Republican-controlled state legislatures for the most extensive contraction of voting access in generations.
"The Republican Party was transformed under Donald Trump in a way that won't be reversed anytime soon — fanning grievance, disregarding the truth and perpetuating the myth that Trump's votes weren't counted," said Ben LaBolt, an adviser to former President Barack Obama in the White House and on his campaigns. "The Georgia law is part of this battle."
Mr. Trump welcomed the law in a statement and invoked his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, complaining that the rule changes would have helped him if they had been enacted sooner.
In the short term, Republican lawmakers say they have regained the political initiative by applying pressure in statehouses. Their efforts have, indeed, prompted an internal Democratic dispute over scrapping the filibuster to void the state-level efforts to restrict voting access.
But in the long term, Democrats think the strategy could prompt a progressive backlash that would invigorate their party's base.
In a scene with echoes of the civil rights era, Senator Raphael Warnock, Georgia's first Black senator since Reconstruction, visited a Democratic state legislator in jail on Thursday after she was arrested for lightly knocking on Mr. Kemp's door as he was signing the bill.
"What we have witnessed today is a very desperate attempt to lock out and squeeze the people out of their own democracy," Mr. Warnock said after visiting State Representative Park Cannon in the Fulton County Jail.
"The people are being locked down and locked out of their own democracy," Mr. Warnock said, adding that the new law only reinforced the determination of Black voters to have their voices heard.
Asked about Ms. Cannon's arrest, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Friday, "I think anyone who saw that video would have been deeply concerned by the actions that were taken by law enforcement."
New York Times, March 26, 2021
March 27, 2021
Voices4America Post Script. Republicans have a problem. The more eligible voters turn out for elections, the less Republicans win.
In more than 24 states, GOP led legislatures have passed bills attacking Americans’ right to vote. Georgia, with Brian Kemp as Governor, has passed among the worst of these voter suppression laws, aimed at preventing citizens from voting, especially Black and Brown citizens. One even forbid giving water or food to people waiting to vote.
President Biden has boldly called these laws “Jim Crow for the 21st Century,” “unAmerican,” and “unconstitutional.”
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