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Attorney General Bonta Files Amicus Brief in Opposition to Georgia Voting Restrictions Law

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging Georgia’s Senate Bill 202 (SB 202). Fueled by election misinformation, SB 202 — also known as Jim Crow 2.0 — threatens to have a disproportionate impact on the ability of Black voters to participate in Georgia’s elections in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the amicus brief in United States v. Georgia, the coalition urges the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to fully review the claim put forward by the federal government and reject Georgia’s partisan attempt to have the case thrown out without any factual development.

“Make no mistake: Voting rights in this country are under coordinated attack,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We cannot afford to go back to an era where government officials are given license to block Black Americans from making their voices heard. The right to vote is a fundamental part of who we are and it is the foundation for our democratic institutions. We must reject these partisan attacks on our fellow Americans. We urge the court to let the federal government make its case.”

In the wake of the November 2020 Election and January 2021 Runoff, Georgia enacted SB 202 under the premise of fostering “uniformity” in the state’s voting laws across its counties to bolster “voter confidence.” In its complaint, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that SB 202 instead was enacted with the discriminatory purpose of denying or abridging Black Georgians’ access to the political process. The 98-page law allegedly does so by targeting voting methods that have historically been overwhelmingly used by voters of color. SB 202 imposes new identification requirements for absentee voting; restricts the use of absentee drop boxes; prohibits third-parties — including voter engagement organizations — from collecting absentee ballot applications; limits early voting; and, notably, bans any non-poll worker from giving food or drink, including water, to voters waiting in line. 

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts: 

  • The characteristics of SB 202 heighten the likelihood of pretext;
  • Contextual and circumstantial evidence are sufficient to plead covert discriminatory intent; and
  • Allowing the factual record to develop will provide clarity on whether SB 202 is a pretextual attempt to abridge the voting rights of Black Georgians.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to standing up for voting rights here in California and across the country. Earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta called on Congress to take immediate action to protect voting rights nationwide through federal legislation defending against both voter suppression and election subversion. In July, he filed an amicus brief urging the California Supreme Court to retain and strengthen protections guaranteed under the California Voting Rights Act. In June, the Attorney General put out a call to action urging state policymakers and criminal justice leaders to speak out against restrictions on the right to vote being considered and passed by state legislatures across the nation.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.