For The Record

Georgia AG denies discrimination in state’s controversial new election law

By: - May 4, 2021 1:56 pm

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr filed a brief in U.S. District Court Monday that argues that a New Georgia Project lawsuit doesn’t show how the state’s new voting laws are discriminatory and will place significant barriers on access to the ballot box. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr is asking a U.S. District Court judge to toss out a lawsuit that claims Georgia’s new election law disenfranchises minorities, the disabled and other marginalized groups.

Carr argues that Georgia remains one of the top states in the nation for providing access to the ballot box after state lawmakers passed the controversial “Election Integrity Act” in late March. Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed the legislation that roiled the 2021 General Assembly, acknowledging that lawsuits were sure to follow.

In a 28-page filing in response to the New Georgia Project’s lawsuit, Carr says the court should reject the voting rights group’s request to halt the state’s sweeping new election law from taking effect.

The response is the state’s first legal rebuttal to one of the seven federal suits filed by civil and voting rights organizations that claim new absentee ID requirements, limitations on absentee drop boxes and other changes violate the federal Voting Rights Act.  

Carr’s filing says the New Georgia Project suit doesn’t explain how the new voting rules are discriminatory. His filing says the changes to voting access contained in SB 202 don’t create significant barriers for Georgia voters in future elections and are not racially discriminatory.

“The court should allow Georgia to do what the Constitution specifically allows it to do- regulate its own election – and this court should dismiss the case,” Carr wrote.

“The plaintiff’s complaint never alleges any causal link between race and any of the specific practices they challenge as a burden on the right to vote under (Voting Rights Act), instead making- at best- generalized statements about disparate impacts,” the state’s filing says.

Republican  supporters of the election overhaul say the legislation improves the security of the absentee system by adding stronger ID requirements. They say it will give many Georgians more voting options by mandating an extra weekend voting day and more public notice when polling locations are changed.

Democrats and various voting groups that say the law restricts access claim that the overhaul is an overreaction by lawmakers based on high-profile defeats Republicans suffered in Georgia’s presidential election and two historic U.S. Senate runoffs.

Carr found himself drawn into the election controversy following the Nov. 3 general election when he declined to join a suit filed by the the Texas attorney general to overturn the 2020 presidential election over discredited claims of fraud. The U.S. Supreme Court soundly rejected the Texas suit.

Georgia’s 2020 election was repeatedly characterized by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as the most secure in the state’s history. 

Earlier this month, Carr resigned as chairman from a national GOP attorney general organization that sent out robocalls urging people to “Stop the Steal” leading up to the Jan 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.