ATLANTA - Faith leaders, community activists, and state lawmakers bowed their heads in Liberty Plaza on Tuesday afternoon as they joined in prayer.
Organizers said they represented more than 1,000 congregations across Georgia as they rallied against a recent wave of new election reform laws across the country.
"At a time when in this State House and state houses all across the nation an effort is made to suppress and obstruct the vote of black and brown people, we think we need to be in prayer," said Georgia AME Bishop Reginald Jackson.
Georgia lawmakers approved Senate Bill 202 in late March and Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed it into law. "The Election Integrity Act of 2021" requires voters to include their Georgia Driver's License number or a photocopy of another acceptable ID on absentee ballots. It banned the use of mobile voting precincts, like those use in Fulton County in 2020. While the bill added absentee drop boxes to state law for the first time, it significantly reduced the number some counties can have — only allowing one dropbox per 100,000 registered voters.
"I felt like the bill was a good bill. It makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat and that's what I've always stood for in Georgia is secure, accessible, and fair elections and anybody that's saying anything different, they're not being truthful with you," Gov. Kemp said in an interview with FOX 5 last week.
The group that organized Tuesday's prayer event is the same one that launched a boycott of The Home Depot last month after they said the Georgia-based company did not do enough to speak out against the state's election law changes.
The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called on companies to publicly support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in Congress.
"Nothing would be more tragic than for us to allow the momentum of voter suppression laws in 47 states to take preeminence in our nation," said King. "We have the power to stop it in its tracks if corporate America would take its rightful place by coming out in support of the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act and even the For the People Act."
The group plans to travel to Washington, D.C. next week to meet with other religious and community leaders from across the country and lobby U.S. Senators.
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