Six White Georgia lawmakers stood behind GOP Gov. Brian Kemp Thursday night as he signed a sweeping voter suppression law. A painting of a White slave plantation framed the action. Outside the private meeting, a Black Democratic lawmaker was arrested for having the temerity to knock on the door. Park Cannon wanted to witness the event. State Police took her away after she knocked on the door a few times, according to a video from 11 Alive in Atlanta, the state Capitol.
The private Republican ceremony happened several months after Joe Biden, a Democrat, won the Peach State. He was the first Democrat to do so in about two decades.
Two months later, Georgia held a couple of runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats. Democrats won both races for the first time in years. The victories gave Democrats control of the Senate. The party already had control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House. The consolidation of power nationally means Democrats have more control over the legislative agenda, although contemporary GOP filibuster practices must be overcome.
The voter suppression bill that became law in Georgia Thursday night is one of many bills being considered or approved by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the United States. The new Peach State law was packed into a 100-page voting bill. Among other things, it makes it illegal to give food and water to people who are waiting in line to vote. Georgia is known for long voting lines, particularly in communities of color.
The law also reduces the hours of voting, makes it harder to vote-by-mail, and restricts Sunday voting. Black churches traditionally conduct “Souls to the Polls” operations after Sunday church services.
However, in light of the attempt by former President Donald Trump to steal the November election, other provisions in the law are equally ominous. The law strips the Secretary of State of some of his authority over elections. And it gives the state legislature the power to take control of local election boards.
After Trump lost in his reelection bid, he tried to bully state officials to change vote counts to make him the winner in enough states so he would come out on top in Electoral College votes. The Electoral College determines the winner, even though Biden won by more than 7 million votes nationally. A presidential candidate needs 270 Electoral Votes to win. The Jan. 6 Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol happened as Congress was doing its Constitutional duty to certify the Electoral College results.
At least two taped conversations with Georgia officials have been made public. One documents Trump pressuring the Republican secretary of state; a second recording surfaced later, showing Trump working on a state elections investigator.
Despite all of this evidence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says with a straight face that Republicans are not passing voter suppression laws. Try telling that to the Black Georgia legislator who got put in handcuffs and jail for daring to knock on the door of the White Only bill signing ceremony at the Georgia state Capitol.