FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2021
Glory Kilanko, Founder and CEO, Tel: 404-759-6419
Atlanta, GA — Women Watch Afrika (WWA) condemns the passage of the disenfranchisement/voter suppression legislation Senate Bill 202 (SB 202). On March 25th, the Georgia legislature passed a Jim Crow throwback bill that is an attack against the voting power of Black and Brown voters and that will also adversely impact the immigrant community of new citizens/new voters. In an unprecedented move, the governor Brian Kemp rushed to sign the bill, putting SB 202 into effect.
As mentioned in our prior pressers, messages, and posts, SB 202 is over 90-pages long and is one of the most aggressive anti-voting bill that was introduced to the legislature this session. It was dropped by surprised and rushed through the legislative process. There were no notice posted on the legislature’s website and no notice given to other legislators, no notice to voters, and no notice to advocates, thereby preventing a proper vetting process and limiting the amount of time individuals have to give their opinion on the bill.
SB 202 restrictions affect more than absentee ballots (mail in voting). This egregious law restricts early voting by cutting down the numbers of days allowed for early voting, it limits the amount of available ballot drop boxes and locations, it criminalizes line warming (providing sanitizer, masks, gloves, snacks, or juice to individuals in long lines), and most disturbing it allows for the controlling party of the Georgia Legislature to remove local boards of election and thereby control the results of elections. Additionally, the law creates further barriers to voting by mail by changing the time line of when absentee ballots can be requested and sent in.
The creation of this bill/now law is in direct retaliation to the 2020 Presidential Election and 2021 Senate Runoff Results.
The Georgia Landmark Elections of 2020 and the 2021 U.S. Senate runoffs proved that No-excuse vote by mail is a successful and viable option for Georgia’s Elections. In the General Election, 1.3 million Georgians used absentee ballots, resulting in historic voter turnout. No excuse absentee voting provided an opportunity to level the playing field and make voting safer for ALL Georgians, especially in the midst of this coronavirus Pandemic.
However, instead of the Georgia legislature focusing on building on the landmark accomplishments of the last elections, it seems they were focused on retaliating for not having had the elections go the way they would have preferred. Therefore instead of working on expanding voting options, they spent time writing up bills to make it harder for Black, Brown, and the immigrant community’s New American Citizens to vote.
Voting is one of the most important tools for change we have in a democracy. Our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate and have their voices heard.
The rules for absentee voting was set in place prior to 2020 and 2021 elections and the only difference in those elections than in the previous ones, is that the community of Black, Brown, and new citizens and first time voters used absentee voting more than they have in the past as many were concerned about the pandemic. Additionally, those willing to take the calculated risk of getting infected with the disease, showed up in higher numbers in person for early voting.
Preye Cobham, Attorney and Legal Director, states: “This new law specifically targets the minority communities (Black, Brown, new citizens from the immigrant communities, and the economically disadvantaged). These communities already face challenges of language barriers, accent profiling, mailed absentee ballot requests that never got answered or that were erroneously denied, errors in the State’s system that classified new citizens as non-citizens, etc. Many of these communities members do not have a US passport, state issued ids, or a driver’s license as they do not drive and they had their green card as a form of id in the past. However, upon becoming citizens, they had to turn in their green cards to the US government and only have their Certificate of Naturalization as a form of id (which has their information and picture) and which they presented to the State election office to register to vote so the State elections office as a government entity made a copy of it and keeps it on record. How then are they supposed to send in driver’s license or id when they want to request an absentee ballot? Additionally, the federal government states on the Naturalization Certificate that individuals should not make copies of their Naturalization Certificates. When faced with unprecedented and newly created challenges that impact them directly, our community of new citizens, young voters, and first time voters are less likely vote. Though SB 202 has been passed into law the fight against disenfranchisement and voter suppression is not over. Women Watch Afrika will always stand against any and all forms of Voter Suppression. WWA will always advocate for Civic Engagement & Education, Voter Empowerment, Fair and Open Elections, and Integrity in the Voting System. We will continue to strive to ensure that the voices of our communities are heard. And Women Watch Afrika will use all forms legally available to us to challenge this (and any future) Jim Crow 2.0 law(s).”
As an expert in this field, Women Watch Afrika provides trainings as a consultant on numerous issues. For more information on training, guidance, consulting services, and/or information on working with immigrant communities contact Glory Kilanko, Founder and Executive Director, Women Watch Afrika, Inc. at 404-759-6419 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Women Watch Afrika:
Women Watch Afrika is a grassroots, nonprofit, international, national, and local social justice organization focused on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls, the promotion of social and economic development and health equity of women, and the acculturation of immigrants and refugees arriving to the United States from 23 African nations.
In line with its goal, Women Watch Afrika provides Social Services, Legal Services, Advocacy, Health Education, Legal Education, End Domestic Violence classes, Stop FGM/C workshops, Know Your Rights workshops, Citizenship Preparation, Civic Engagement; and Advocates against unjust, discriminatory laws that affect the community.
Website: https://womenwatchafrika.org/ Tel: 404-759-6419
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