The Republican Party-dominated state government has pushed through a bill making Georgia the first state to pass a broad anti-voting law. This law drags voting protection for African Americans back to the racist norms before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Losing the national presidential vote and two Senate seats terrified the Georgia Republicans into suppressing Black voters. Other states have similar laws in the works.
Resistance has begun. There is already talk of moving baseball’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta this summer. A mass movement like the one that won the 1965 law can still reverse this racist offensive and broaden voting and other civil rights.
While its sponsors deny the racist content of the Georgia law, it’s easy to demonstrate this by going through the law point by point. We’d rather first thank a courageous Black woman, Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, for tearing the cover off this law and exposing its rot.
Rep. Cannon tried to confront Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp as he signed the bill — in his private office. She aimed to witness this historically reactionary act.
Rep. Cannon knocked on the heavy wooden door to Kemp’s office. The visibly white Georgia state troopers stopped, handcuffed and arrested her. They charged her with two invented felonies — since no law exists denying elected representatives the right to knock on the governor’s door. The video of the arrest went viral.
Such a video disrupted Gov. Kemp’s “optics,” which already had problems. Photographs show six white men in suits flanking the governor as he signs the Jim Crow bill. A large painting hanging on the wall behind them shows a plantation straight out of the slavocracy. One can imagine the only restraint the suited white men showed was to wait for the photographer to leave before donning their KKK hoods.
The new law includes the following points:
- New voter ID requirements created for absentee ballots;
- State officials can oversee local election boards;
- There will be limited ballot drop boxes; and
- Giving food and water to voters waiting in line will be a crime.
The first and third points inhibit voting. They especially obstruct voters in majority African American cities and poor rural areas. Point two takes the development and monitoring of voting procedures away from majority African American cities and towns.
The fourth one about food and water has already outraged large majorities, according to polls. In its obvious inhuman cruelty, it mimics the laws that prevent people from giving water to their parched fellow humans migrating across the deserts in the U.S. Southwest.
These new restrictions are also reminiscent of those placed on Black people seeking to register to vote prior to the 1965 federal law, like the illegal poll tax or voting fee.
Those laws sparked resistance. And Georgia’s law cries out for massive resistance.
Following her release from the Fulton County Jail, Rep. Cannon wrote on social media: “We will not live in fear, and we will not be controlled. . . . We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom.”
We applaud Democratic Rep. Cannon’s courage. Still, we distrust the Democratic Party’s national leadership in this struggle. Despite the president’s rhetoric attacking this law, and despite his party’s self-interest in expanding voter turnout, we expect this other imperialist party to avoid a serious confrontation with Republicans on this question.
Like the Black Lives Matter movement of last summer, a new voting rights struggle needs to be independent of both big capitalist parties.
Drop all charges against Rep. Cannon of Georgia! Smash the Georgia voting suppression laws!