Senate

Stacey Abrams: Parts of new Georgia voting law have racist intent

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) got into a heated exchange during a Senate hearing on Tuesday when discussing the recently passed Georgia voting law, with Abrams saying parts of the reform package have racist intention.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cornyn asked Abrams if the law is "a racist piece of legislation."

"I think there are components of it that are indeed racist because they use racial animus as a means of targeting the behaviors of certain voters to eliminate their participant and limit their participation in elections," Abrams responded.

When asked by Cornyn if she believed the Georgia legislature made "deliberate attempts to suppress the minority vote," Abrams replied "Yes."

Cornyn noted that Georgia allows for no-excuse absentee voting, pointing to various Democratic-led states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York that do not. He asked Abrams if she believed those states' voting laws are racist.

Abrams said the laws in those states "need to be improved," but that she believes it is how laws target certain communities that makes them racist.

"The state of Georgia targeted communities that used these resources for the first time to their benefit," Abrams said, referring to the uptick in mail-in voting in the 2020 election. "And that's after 15 years of Republican-dominated use of absentee balloting it suddenly changed its mind about the utility, the processing, the timeliness-"

The Texas senator then interrupted Abrams, accusing her of filibustering. Cornyn also claimed that Abrams believes voter ID laws are racist, a claim the former state lawmaker shot back on, stating she is a supporter of voter ID laws, but that the targeted legislation disproportionately affects communities of color. 

She said that the new Georgia laws would push nearly 200,000 voters out of the election process.

"Sometimes it's racist, sometimes it's not racist?" Cornyn asked.

"The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation," Abrams said. "That is the point of the Jim Crow narrative, that Jim Crow did not simply look at the activities. It looked at the intent, it looked at the behaviors and it targeted behaviors that were disproportionately used by people of color."

Georgia has faced corporate pushback and multiple legal challenges to the law, which comes after the state voted blue for the first time in years. Among other changes, the law limits the use of ballot drop boxes and forbids giving food or water to people waiting in line to vote.

-Updated at 5:13 p.m.

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