Civic Engagement Groups Prepare for Trial Challenging Georgia’s Anti-Voter Law

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A woman with her back to the camera holds a sign which says "Voting access for ALL", while standing with others in front of a large mural of John Lewis.
Hundreds of concerned voters gathered along Auburn Avenue for a rally and march to protest Georgia's recently passed SB202 state law that is considered by many to suppress voting rights for black, low-income and disabled residents. The March On for Voting Rights Atlanta walked to a large mural of late Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights hero for whom the Voting Rights Advancement Act is named. Credit: Robin Rayne/ZUMA Press Wire

In a victory for voters, on Dec. 9, 2021, a federal court said a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s anti-voter law can move forward. Campaign Legal Center (CLC) brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of VoteAmerica, the Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information. 

The lawsuit specifically contests provisions of Georgia’s S.B. 202 that violate the groups’ First Amendment right to distribute vote-by-mail applications. The lawsuit is now on a fast track for a decision on the merits. 

In March 2021, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed S.B. 202 into law. The omnibus measure makes numerous changes to Georgia’s election system, specifically targeting access to vote by mail.

These changes to Georgia’s election code prohibit the Secretary of State, county election officials and other government officials from sending vote-by-mail applications directly to any voter unless the voter specifically requests one.

The law restricts third party organizations from distributing vote-by-mail applications to voters. Furthermore, the law imposes a $100 fine for every application sent by an organization to a person who has already requested, received, or voted using an absentee ballot — a major financial disincentive for nonprofit groups trying to aid with absentee ballot applications to registered voters. 

In the 2020 general election and 2021 runoff elections, millions of Georgians requested, received and cast their votes by mail, leading to unprecedented voter turnout. A backlash against this turnout should not be allowed to win the day.

The decision by the court is a major win for Georgia’s voters. We look forward to the opportunity to show the court the serious constitutional problems with Georgia’s law and defending Georgians’ freedom to vote so that they can make their voices heard on the key issues that impact their lives.

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