State Watch

Atlanta mayor issues order to expand ballot access

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested after a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead on Tuesday night, including six Asian

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) on Tuesday issued an executive order taking aim at the voting restrictions enacted by the state that have dominated political debate for weeks.

Bottoms’s order directs the city’s chief equity officer to craft a “plan of action to mitigate the impact on City of Atlanta residents of the voting restrictions” that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law in March.

Among the actions the official can take are providing training to staff members and information on early, absentee and in-person voting; directing residents on how to gain the proper ID to vote by mail; and working with private sector and advocacy groups to implement related public service announcements.

The move is the latest by Democrats to increase ballot access while fighting back against the restrictions, which have been at the center of a political battle and garnered pushback from lawmakers, private companies and the sports world.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents—particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said in a statement, referring to the Senate bill that became law. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not—expand access to our right to vote.”

Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The bill Kemp signed into law will put into effect new photo ID requirements for absentee voting, limitations on the number of drop-off ballot boxes, shorter periods in which Georgia residents can apply for mail-in ballots and prohibitions on local governments from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot application forms. 

It also expands the hours available at polling places for in-person voting and mandates that every county have at least one drop-off box. 

Democrats and voting rights advocates have seized on the restrictions contained in the new law, with President Biden labeling it “Jim Crow 2.0.”

The law has already been hit with a number of lawsuits, but national debate over the restrictions reached a fever pitch last week when MLB announced it was moving its July 13 All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest of the law. The game has been relocated to Denver. 

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has also called the restrictions “unacceptable” and “a step backwards,” while Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the law “includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives.”

Republicans have torn into the companies, accusing them of buying into Democrats’ arguments about the law. Kemp has said the law is “worth the boycotts as well as the lawsuits” and that he “won’t back down.”

Former President Trump has also called on Republicans to boycott MLB and other companies that have criticized the law. 

“For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections,” Trump said in a statement Saturday.

“It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back—we have more people than they do—by far! Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck,” he added.

Tags Absentee ballot Atlanta Brian Kemp Coca-Cola Donald Trump Georgia Georgia voting law Joe Biden Keisha Lance Bottoms

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