For Immediate Release
Stacie B. Royster
Voting Rights Advocates Call on Georgia Legislature to Reject Attack on Voters
WASHINGTON - A strong coalition of voting rights and pro-democracy organizations is demanding that the Georgia legislature reject HB891, a bill that would shorten early voting days in Georgia municipalities from twenty-one to six calling the bill, "a frontal assault on the great American democratic process."
The League of Women Voters of Georgia (LWVGA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC), Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee), Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Southern Region, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Georgia Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc., Georgia Women's Actions for New Directions (WAND), the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, African American Ministers in Action, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, the Peacemaking and Justice Committee of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Partnership, Georgia Coalition of Black Women, Georgia Women for a Change, Inc., Georgia Equality/Equality Foundation of Georgia, Georgia Rural Urban Summit, and others have been urging the legislature to reject this anti-voting bill. Early voting, the groups argue, gives every voter an additional opportunity to fit the important act of voting into their busy schedules, reduces the crush of voters on Election Day, makes the entire voting process more efficient and reduces the cost and long lines at the polls on Election Day. No voter should have to wait more than one hour to vote.
"We oppose HB891 because our experience shows that early voting periods provide communities of color with critical opportunities to vote outside of the traditional Election Day that account for work and family obligations, transportation limitations, and the other life realities of voters of color and the working and poor," said Leah Aden, Assistant Counsel with the Political Participation Group of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Alice Kim, AALAC's Director of Civic Engagement added, "AALAC has been working closely with several municipalities and in all of our meetings, city councilmen and mayors expressed a desire to see more - not fewer - citizens voting and participating in government leadership."
"Early voting not only gives more voters the opportunity to cast a ballot, it allows elections officials to identify and correct problems in all aspects of the voting process, from voter registration to voting systems malfunctions," said Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers' Committee, which leads Election Protection, the nation's largest non-partisan voter protection effort. "In short, it allows more voters the opportunity to cast a ballot that counts."
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO said, "Local elections matter and local municipalities should work to make voting easier for voters rather than making it more difficult and providing fewer options."
"Voting is the cornerstone of democracy and we seek to promote legislation that will make voting as easy and accessible as possible. Compromising the ease by which we all vote is only compromising our democratic principles," stated Chad Brock, Staff Attorney/Legislative Counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.
In a truly undemocratic action last week, the House Governmental Affairs Committee refused to hear testimony from organizations that opposed the bill and were present at the hearing. "This legislature and this bill threaten to silence the voices of those least heard and rarely listened to in Georgia - the poor, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, the young and the disabled. Now is the time to act. We must work together to defeat this unjust and prejudicial bill and implement new laws that will lower the barriers to voting and ensure that every eligible citizen will have the ability to vote and have their votes counted," concluded Elizabeth Poythress, President of the LWVGA.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.