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BREAKING: Court Denies Motion from Civil Rights Groups Challenging Georgia’s Voting Line Relief Ban

GEORGIA – The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to suspend the line relief ban in Senate Bill 202. Line relief is the practice of distributing food, water and other support to voters stuck waiting in line at a polling place. The plaintiffs include local Black faith leaders and Georgia civil rights groups. In response, Jess Unger, Staff Attorney for the Power and Democracy program at Advancement Project National Office, released this statement:

“The criminalization of people providing food and water to voters who are waiting to cast their ballots is a direct restriction of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. This particularly impacts communities of color in Georgia who have historically faced some of the longest waiting times at the ballot box in the country and currently are six times more likely than white voters to wait more than one hour to vote. What’s clear is that the line relief restrictions of SB 202 will ultimately suppress voter turnout in Black communities.

“When voters are brought food and water by volunteers or community leaders, they understand this to be a message of unconditional support, gratitude, and shared strength. It helps them stay in line and participate in the political process. To deny help to voters experiencing fatigue and hunger while waiting in hours-long lines is simply antithetical to the practice of democracy.

“Despite denying the preliminary injunction, the court found it ‘substantially likely’ that part of the line relief ban is unconstitutional. Our plaintiffs’ fight against this and other provisions of SB 202 continues.

“This bill was signed by Governor Kemp as part of a sweeping trend of over 400 new anti-voting laws introduced in the wake of the 2020 presidential election targeting communities of color across the country.”

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