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Immigrant-Rights Groups Criticize Georgia’s New Voting Law

A Fulton County election worker is shown processing absentee ballots in November. On Thursday, a Republican-backed voting bill was signed into law in Georgia. Among the changes, the nearly 100-page bill includes restrictions on where drop boxes can be placed and requires ID for absentee voting.
A Fulton County election worker is shown processing absentee ballots in November. On Thursday, a Republican-backed voting bill was signed into law in Georgia. Among the changes, the nearly 100-page bill includes restrictions on where drop boxes can be placed and requires ID for absentee voting.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press file

Immigrant voters who helped turn traditionally red counties in metro Atlanta blue say the state’s recent overhaul of the election code will harm voters of color.

On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Republican-backed bill into law. The nearly 100-page bill includes restrictions on where drop boxes can be placed and requires ID for absentee voting.

Anu Banerjee of Cobb County says the law will hurt seniors and low-income immigrant voters.

“We struggle with technology,” Banerjee said. “We struggle with not having a printer, trying to make a photocopy, delivering it. It’s really just deplorable.”

Banerjee is part of the group They See Blue, a national organization that mobilizes South Asian Democratic voters. Cobb, a longtime Republican county, voted Democratic in 2016 and 2020. The county also voted Democratic in the U.S. Senate runoffs. 

Vyanti Joseph, also a Cobb voter, is co-founder of the Georgia chapter of They See Blue. While she’s disappointed in Georgia’s new voting law, she hopes it motivates even more people to cast ballots. 

“We’re going to have to ramp up education,” Joseph said. “We just have to move forward.”

Nearly two dozen immigrant-rights groups also condemned the new legislation.

In a statement, the Georgia Immigrant Rights Alliance said, “Georgia saw unprecedented voter turnout during the 2020 election cycle because Georgians were given options to safely and securely cast their ballots while in a global pandemic. Rather than continue to expand Georgians’ access to the ballot, SB 202 will restrict Georgian immigrant communities’ right to make their voices heard.” 

President Joe Biden called the law “un-American.”

Record turnout in the general election helped Biden win Georgia by about 12,000 votes. The state also elected two Democrats to the U.S. Senate in runoff elections.

Kemp said the bill would ensure elections in the state are secure and fair.

“We had our results last year counted three times,” Banerjee said about the November presidential election.

Joseph says, despite the bill, she’s ready to vote.

“We waited in line for five to eight hours last year. We’ll wait in line 10 to 15 hours next year if we have to,” she said.

The new law also prohibits passing out food and water to voters waiting in line.