Atlanta, GA — In a victory for voters, a federal court today 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.
“Georgia’s anti-voter law threatens the critical work of nonpartisan organizations that help vulnerable communities vote,” said Paul Smith, vice president for litigation and strategy at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “We look forward to the opportunity to show the court the serious constitutional problems with Georgia’s law.”
“This is an important step forward for Georgia voters and for the defense of civic participation,” said VoteAmerica founder and CEO Debra Cleaver. “As we saw 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 high turnout amongst African-American, Latino and other voters of color should not be allowed to win the day.”
“Today’s decision by the court is a major win for Georgia’s voters,” said Tom Lopach, president and CEO of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center (VPC) and Center for Voter Information (CVI). “Through this lawsuit, we are contesting Georgia’s anti-voter law and specifically the provisions that would inhibit our ability to help Georgians vote-by-mail. At VPC and CVI, we’ll keep fighting to win this legal battle in Georgia, protect our democracy, and ensure every American can make their voices heard.”
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.
The Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information are non-profit, non-partisan organizations founded in 2003 to help members of the New American Majority — unmarried women, people of color and young people — register and vote. Since then, the organizations have helped 5.7 million people register and cast ballots.