2018 was an awful year for voting rights in Georgia. Then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp used the powers of his office to help win the governor’s race. If it weren’t for Kemp’s voter suppression tactics, Stacey Abrams–voting rights champion and member of the Let America Vote Board of Advisors–would be Georgia’s governor. Kemp purged voting roles, closed polling places, restricted voter registrations, and mishandled absentee ballots in order to tip the gubernatorial race in his favor. Kemp made a mockery of democratic principles. 

In the shadow of the 2018 election, Fair Fight Action, a voting rights organization founded by Abrams, filed suit against Georgia’s board of elections and secretary of state. The lawsuit challenges the Georgia GOP’s voter suppression tactics. The lawsuit argues that Georgia’s vote suppression violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Help America Vote Act. The lawsuit ties civil rights to voting rights as the voter suppression in Georgia disproportionately affects voters of color

In reaction to Gov. Kemp’s voter suppression, the Georgia legislature passed a bill that addresses some of the undemocratic tactics employed in 2018. The omnibus election bill (HB 316) includes improvements to Georgia’s “no match, no vote” policy, voter purges, absentee voting, provisional voting, and voting for people with disabilities. The fact that the Georgia legislature actually worked together to pass the bill proves Stacey Abrams’ point about Kemp’s voter suppression to steal the governor’s race. HB 316 should also make voter registration more accessible

Yet other bills proposed by Democratic legislators that would expand voting rights did not advance this session. Georgia Democrats introduced the Georgia Voting Rights Act (HB 283) that would establish same-day registration, improve voting equipment, expand the ability to vote on Election Day for workers, and establish the Georgia voting rights commission, which would handle Georgia’s redistricting and would provide oversight on voting rights-related issues. Democratic legislators introduced several other bills that would have made elections fairer and more accessible, including: establishing vote-by-mail (HB 57); establishing independent redistricting commissions (SR 52HR 369); lowering the voting age to 17 (HR 345); providing same day registration (HB 252), expanding voting assistance for voters with disabilities (HB 251); making voter registration more efficient (HB 250); making registering to vote fairer and more accessible (HB 522), expanding automatic voter registration (HB 176), and allowing voters to vote in any precinct within their county (HB 117).

We can be sure that the Georgia GOP will continue to attempt to suppress the vote in Georgia leading up to 2020. One way that Georgia may seek to disenfranchise more black voters is to use Jim Crow-era “moral turpitude” laws. We need to fight back against all of these voter suppression tactics!