Court Battles

Georgia elections chief probing DOJ’s contact with outside groups

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) filed a records request Thursday seeking communications between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 62 different groups involved in protecting voting rights.

The Freedom of Information Act request comes as the Justice Department in June sued the state over a controversial new law imposing a number of restrictions on voting that critics say would impede Black voters.

The unusual request asks for communications with Stacey Abrams, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Common Cause, Campaign Legal Center and other groups that have separately sued over the Georgia law.

It also asks for the department’s communications with lawmakers and their staff and any guidance documents the DOJ uses “to determine when, in DOJ’s opinion, a provision of a state’s election law violates” the Voting Rights Act.

The records request was paired with a release from Raffensperger alleging politics — not the law — were the motivation behind the DOJ’s suit.

“The American people deserve to know who’s really pulling the strings in the hyper partisan Biden Department of Justice,” Raffensperger said, adding that “Georgia is being singled out for political reasons.” 

“This new step will help determine whether the Biden Administration is getting outside help in turning America’s top law enforcement agency into an extension of the extreme left wing or if the DOJ has been taken over by liberal activists altogether.”

A records request is an unusual move to take outside of the formal lawsuit, which can provide a pathway for seeking some documents.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Georgia law, S.B. 202, passed in March along party lines in the span of just a few hours, imposes restrictions that voting rights groups say will fall most heavily on minorities: It sets new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes and even bars passing out food and water to those waiting in line to vote.

In addition to the suit from the DOJ, Georgia is defending the bill in at least five outside suits.

The Justice Department argues that the Georgia law violates prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group, along with other constitutional protections for voting.

“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said the day the suit was filed.

Tags Department of Justice Election integrity FOIA request Georgia Merrick Garland Voting rights bill

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