Georgia Democrats call for new Voting Rights Act, file voting lawsuit

On the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the Georgia Democratic Party called on Congress to pass an update to the landmark legislation.

"It is so important that Congress pass a new 'John Lewis Voting Rights Act,'" said Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams. "We know, like Mr. Lewis taught us, that our vote is the most powerful, nonviolent tool in a democratic society and we must expand access to the ballot so that our democracy is fully realized."

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the law that required some states, including Georgia, to get federal approval before changing elections laws.

"This act has had an immediate and long-lasting impact on the ability of blacks to participate in the political system of this country and we can thank John Lewis for shedding his blood," said Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Georgia.

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Line of voters near Park Tavern in Atlanta day of Georgia Primary Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (FOX 5)

The virtual news conference came the same day the DPG partnered with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to file a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the members of some county elections boards. The lawsuit seeks a court order to force elections officials to address the long lines that occurred during the June 9 primary.

"The Secretary of State is squarely responsible for the meltdown that we saw in the June 9 primary," said Williams. "Our presidential primary was delayed twice and there was time for our Secretary of State to put processes in place to make sure that all voters were able to safely cast their ballot. Counties are caught in the middle of this. So, we added counties as a defendant in this lawsuit because we want to make sure that we're getting this right and at the end of the day, what matters to us is that voters are not negatively impacted at any level of the electoral process."

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Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs responded with a statement:

"The Democratic Party of Georgia, Fair Fight and Democratic legislators all opposed Secretary Raffensperger’s legislation that would have required counties to add more polling places, equipment, and/or poll workers if any polling place had a wait time of more than an hour at any point throughout the day. Now, they are asking a federal court to order just that. Meanwhile, Secretary Raffensperger has been providing Georgia counties with specific data to help them know where they might need to add more polling places or voting equipment in order to avoid lines in November.

"We will work around the clock from here through the elections – under the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic – to ensure that all eligible Georgia voters are informed fully about any polling place changes, that we have enough precincts and poll workers, and that we do everything possible to minimize lines. Many of these duties fall under the counties’ jurisdiction, but we do everything in our power to help them carry out a successful election."