Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes bold action to counter Republican voter suppression efforts

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes bold action to counter Republican voter suppression efforts
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Atlanta mayor has issued an administrative order to protest a new Georgia law that limits drop boxes, gives the majority Republican legislature more control over local elections, and adds a requirement to provide photo identification when voting by mail.

"The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents—particularly in communities of color and other minority groups," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news release. "This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not—expand access to our right to vote."

The city order directs city law and equity officials to develop a plan to "mitigate the impact" of the law on Atlanta residents. The order also spells out a plan to disseminate information on how to secure identification required to vote by mail and to train staff members on voter registration and on early, absentee, and in-person voting. Another way the mayor seeks to lessen the blow of the new law is by sending out links to information on voter registration and absentee voting with city water bills and other mailings. She also hopes to work with corporate and community partners to "provide clarity" on new deadlines associated with the law.

"It is not too late to right this sinking ship," the mayor said in a tweet urging the legislature to reconsider the harm it has triggered.

The new law allows the legislature to appoint the majority of the state election board, including the chairperson, giving the state board the power to restructure municipal election boards when it sees fit. "This is extraordinarily dangerous," Sara Tindall Ghazal, a former election director of the Georgia Democratic Party, told Mother Jones. "When you're appointing the majority of the body that you're responsible to, it's self-dealing."

Lauren Groh-Wargo, head of Democrat Stacey Abrams' voting rights organization Fair Fight Action, told reporters in a phone interview last month the new law "will make what we all lived through in 2020 child's play … Donald Trump won't have to strong-arm our election administrators," Groh-Wargo said. "The most radical fringes of the Republican Party sitting in the state legislature will be able to wipe out boards of elections, challenge voters because they don't have the right name according to them or they don't look the way they think they should look.

"This is Jim Crow 2.0."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey spoke out against the law and Major League Baseball vowed to move its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of the law. Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier told The New York Times he and other executives began emailing and texting each other following the passage of Georgia's law. Their goal is to stop other restrictive voting bills from passing across the country. "As African-American business executives, we don't have the luxury of being bystanders to injustice," Frazier said. "We don't have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines when these kinds of injustices are happening all around us."

Black leaders in Georgia and across the country are calling for boycotts of corporations that have failed to help fight the law. "Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected," Bottoms said in a tweet. "Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed."

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