Amid extensive efforts to suppress voters across the country, Georgia has become a hotspot in recent weeks, introducing laws to prevent, among other things, early Sunday face-to-face voting and apologetic absentee voting for younger voters. The Brennan Center found that these anti-voter bills would disproportionately hurt black voters.

These efforts in Georgia are unfolding as state lawmakers across the country push forward aggressive laws that would make it harder to vote – and do so at breakneck speed, according to another analysis by the Brennan Center – and increase the stakes for Congress to Federal reforms like the John Lewis Voting to pass the Rights Advancement Act and For The People Act.

What kind of restrictive electoral laws are being examined in Georgia?

Myrna P.Feeling: Georgia is a story of changing political power. In recent years, the state’s color communities have been extremely effective in promoting their political voices at the ballot box. We see politicians feeling threatened by these changes and in response trying to pass a wave of restrictive electoral laws.

One example is a bill that would restrict no-excuse absentee voting – a program that has existed in Georgia for more than a decade and has traditionally been very popular with white and Republican voters in the state. In 2020, however, the racial differences in usage shrank significantly. In response, there are now several attempts to end the use of non-apologetic ballot papers in Georgia. And of course, these limits are striven for in such a way that the color selectors are damaged disproportionately.

Another restriction that is gaining a lot of notoriety is the restriction or elimination of the Sunday voting. Sunday is a popular day for churches, especially black churches, to ensure that their parishioners or parishioners can get to the voting booth through programs affectionately known as “souls to the polls”. Clearly, these programs are effective and turn out to be voters because people try to thwart them. However, there is no need for security of choice, integrity, or accuracy to tell people that they cannot vote on Sunday.

What does the Brennan Center haves research on the history of long lines found in Georgia elections?

P.Feeling: We analyzed the 2018 elections and found that color voters had to wait longer in line for the elections. In addition, communities with rapidly changing demographics had fewer poll resources per voter. In other words, there was a failure of the jurisdictions to catch up on what their electorate looked like. We saw this in really blatant proportions when we saw long lines during the 2020 presidential primaries, much of which took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. A long line can discourage or disenfranchise voters during a normal election, but it can be deadly during a pandemic where a virus is airborne.

Various factors contribute to long lines at polling stations. Certainly, efforts to suppress voters as we see them in Georgia – such as attempts to impose restrictions restricting early polling days or forcing more people to vote on polling day – will only exacerbate the problem. This is why the proposed ban on offering modest snacks and drinks to people in line is such a challenge for constituencies.

How do the proposed voting restrictions build on and perpetuate the myth of electoral fraud?

P.Feeling: We see politicians continue to spread the big lie that there was widespread electoral fraud in the November 2020 election. It is clear that some politicians in Georgia would prefer to manipulate the rules of the game – so that some voters can participate and others cannot – rather than fighting for votes. And that’s backwards. The voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.

What we actually saw in Georgia in 2020 elections was massive voter turnout in really difficult conditions. Georgia voters said in a very clear voice that they care about their right to vote and that they will exercise them. And the reaction to that reflected much of the rhetoric that inspired the violent uprising we saw earlier in the year. It’s a terrible feedback loop where the same politicians who undermined our electoral system are now pushing for restrictive electoral laws based on the justification that people don’t trust this system. But voters lose confidence in the system when they see politicians manipulate it to stay in power.

How could federal reforms address voter repression efforts?Do you see states like Georgia?

P.Feeling: There are two important federal laws that need to be part of the discussion. One of them is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would help protect voters from racial discrimination and vote suppression by restoring and strengthening the protection of the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the For The People Act (HR 1 in the House of Representatives and p. 1 in the Senate), which deals with many issues of election administration, sets a minimum floor for access to federal elections for Americans, regardless of which state they live in . If it were enacted, it would make voting more accessible.