The Democratic voting rights activist has been an outspoken critic of the law, arguing it will have a disproportionate effect on voters of color. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, she came prepared to make her case.
When Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Abrams to clarify which provisions of Georgia’s new voting law she opposed, she didn’t hold back.
“It shortens the federal runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks,” she said. “It restricts the time a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application. It requires that voters have a photo identification or some other form of identification that they are willing to surrender in order to participate in the absentee ballot process.”
At one point, Kennedy asked Abrams to begin again, citing an audio delay. But after about two minutes, he cut her off entirely.
“OK, I get the idea,” he said.
Footage of Abrams’s thoughtfully measured criticisms went viral. Many of her supporters were reminded of her indelible role in the 2020 presidential election and responded with praise.
At another point during the four-hour meeting, Abrams got into a tense exchange with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who suggested states controlled by Democrats with similar voting laws hadn’t been subjected to the same criticism as Georgia.
Cornyn pointed to New York and Connecticut, which require that voters provide an accepted excuse ― such as being away from home or having a disability ― to be able to vote by mail, whereas Georgia has no such provision. Noting that laws in many states “need to be improved,” Abrams stated that she believed it was how laws target certain communities that make them racist.
“The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation,” she 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 Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has faced intense criticism in the last month since approving the law, which includes limiting the use of ballot drop boxes and forbidding giving food or water to people waiting in line to vote.
Earlier this month, Major League Baseball cited the law in its decision to relocate the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver. Similarly, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua said they would take a stand against the “regressive” law by moving production of their forthcoming movie, “Emancipation,” to a different state.