Justice Department suing Georgia over voting laws, Gov. Kemp responds

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is suing Georgia over the state’s voting laws, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

The announcement will be made later Friday by Attorney General Merrick Garland. It comes two weeks after Garland said the Justice Department would scrutinize a wave of new laws in Republican-controlled states that tighten voting rules. He pledged to take action if prosecutors found unlawful activity.

The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before the official announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The move also comes as pressure grows on the Biden administration to respond to GOP-backed laws being pushed in the states this year. An effort to overhaul election laws was blocked this week by Republican senators.

As of mid-May, 22 restrictive laws had passed in at least 14 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which researches voting and supports expanded access.

The increased enforcement of voting rights laws also signals that Biden and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke — who was one of the nation’s leading civil rights attorneys before her nomination to lead the department’s civil rights division — are making good on a promise to refocus the department around civil rights after a tumultuous four years during the Trump administration.

While much of the more controversial aspects of Georgia’s new voting law were dropped before it was passed, it is notable in its scope and for newly expansive powers granted to the state over local election offices.

Under the bill, the GOP-dominated legislature gave itself greater influence over a state board that regulates elections and empowered that board to remove local election officials deemed to be underperforming.

That has raised concerns that the state board could intervene in the operations of Democratic-run county election offices in metro Atlanta, the state’s Democratic power center.

The bill also adds a voter ID requirement for mail ballots and will result in fewer ballot drop boxes in metro Atlanta.

GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released a statement on the lawsuit from the Biden Administration attempting to overturn Georgia’s election law:

“The Biden Administration continues to do the bidding of Stacey Abrams and spreads more lies about Georgia’s election law. Their lies already cost Georgia $100 million and got the President awarded with four Pinocchios. It is no surprise that they would operationalize their lies with the full force of the federal government. I look forward to meeting them, and beating them, in court.”

GA Governor Brain Kemp, had this to say about the lawsuit:

“This lawsuit is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start. Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and their allies tried to force an unconstitutional elections power grab through Congress – and failed. Now, they are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy. As Secretary of State, I fought the Obama Justice Department twice to protect the security of our elections – and won. I look forward to going three for three to ensure it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia.”

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