SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Testifying at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voter suppression, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock criticized the new state elections law passed in Georgia and others like it saying it’s “a full fledged assault on voting rights unlike anything we have seen since the era of Jim Crow.”
Warnock says there are up to 250 pieces of proposed legislation in 45 states and that legislation has already passed in five states, including Georgia. Senator Warnock say’s Georgia’s law will prevent some people from registering to vote, will affect how many people may end up being able to vote and may increase lines at polling places, not shorten them.
He says Georgia’s legislation comes after record turnouts in November’s election and the January runoff.
“Politicians in our state legislature responded not in celebration but with retaliation,” said Warnock.
The senator is calling on Congress to pass federal election laws he says will ensure voters’ rights as an increasing number of states are taking them away.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr disagrees. Carr was in Savannah last week and told News 3 that “anybody who actually reads the language of the bill sees that it’s about strengthening security, expanding access and improving transparency in elections.”
Carr says his office is prepared to defend the new law and that five lawsuits have already been filed.
“People can say the legislature shouldn’t have passed it because they don’t agree with it, but to say it harkens back to Jim Crow is irresponsible and it is fundamentally wrong,” Carr told us.
Attorney General Carr also said he is opposed to the federal legislation because it is designed to take away the right of states to conduct elections as those states see fit.
Warnock says the proposals would ensure rights that states won’t and restore the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“If we had not acted in 1965, what would our country look like? I certainly would not be sitting here as only the 11th black senator in the history of our country and the first black senator from Georgia,” said Warnock.
“History is watching us, our children are counting on us and we must pass federal voting rights legislation no matter what,” said Warnock.
Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter who represents the 1st district opposes the federal legislation. This week, Carter has also indicated he is considering a run against Warnock in 2022.
Carter said the bill “masquerades as a fix to the country’s election concerns, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Carter went on to say the proposed legislation is a “partisan election takeover.”