GOP Senators Underestimated Stacey Abrams — And Got An Earful
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
File this under asked and answered. Former Georgia House minority leader and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams trended much of the day on Wednesday after Republican Sen. John Kennedy questioned whether she thought a restrictive voting bill signed into law last month is racist. "I think there are provisions of it that are racist, yes," the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate answered. Abrams was speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Tuesday when Kennedy made the mistake of asking her for a list of the provisions she objects to in the Georgia legislation.
"It shortens the federal run-off period from nine weeks to four weeks," Abrams said. "It restricts the time a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application.
"It requires that a voter have a photo identification or some other form of identification that they're willing to surrender in order to participate in the absentee ballot process. It eliminates ..." Apparently seeing that she wasn't the stumbling, ill-equipped naysayer he might've assumed she was, Kennedy cut Abrams off to ask her other questions. Then he cut her off again when she attempted to answer them. "What else? What else?" the Louisiana Republican demanded. Abrams ignored the slights and just kept listing.
"It eliminates over 300 hours of drop box availability," she said. Kennedy responded with a hurried, "Okay, what else?"
"It bans nearly all out-of-precinct votes," Abrams said, "meaning that if you get to a precinct and you are in line for four hours and you get to the end of the line and you are not there between 5 and 7 PM, you have to start all over again."
Kennedy interrupted: "Is that everything?"
"No it is not. No, sir," Abrams responded with a chuckle. "It restricts the hours of operation because it now, under the guise of setting a standardized timeline, it makes it optional for counties that may not want to see expanded access to the right to vote. They can now limit their hours. Instead of those hours being from 7 to 7, they're now from 9 to 5, which may have an effect on voters who can not vote during business hours during early voting. It limits the voting hours ..."
Kennedy interrupted yet again. "Okay, I get the idea. I get the idea," he said.
Georgia Democrats had been fighting elements of the bill spread among other proposed legislation in the state for months when Republicans decided in the final days of the legislative session to hijack a tangentially related piece of legislation. They turned a two-page bill to make sure eligible voters didn't repeatedly receive absentee ballot applications into nearly 100 pages of voter suppression tactics. "The GOP just won't stop when it comes to making it harder for Georgians to vote," the Democratic Party of Georgia said in an earlier statement.
Abrams told Republican Sen. John Cornyn at the same committee hearing that she thought Georgia lawmakers made "deliberate attempts to suppress the minority vote."
When asked if she thought the law in question was a "racist piece of legislation," she responded that she did indeed. "I think there are components of it that are indeed racist because they use racial animus as a means of targeting the behaviors of certain voters to eliminate their participant and limit their participation in elections," Abrams said.
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