From Coca-Cola snub to Major League Baseball pullout: Why are people so angry about Georgia's new voting laws?
The protester holds up a sign over the steps of the Georgia State Capitol as a new voter bill passes - AP
The new Republican electoral law, signed by the state's Republican governor, has received unprecedented backlash from civil rights groups, corporations, corners of Hollywood, and targeted denunciation from President Joe Biden.
Far-reaching new legislation banning people from distributing food or water to queuing voters, and allowing the Republican-controlled state electoral committee to remove and replace county electoral officials, among other things, has intense national scrutiny evoked.
Critics claim the move will disenfranchise black, disabled and other minorities and result in the suppression of voters in Georgia, a normally republican state that was turned blue to aid President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Former President Donald Trump spent months after losing his re-election bid, falsely claiming his defeat was the result of a widespread fraud that turned much of his anger on Peach State. He failed dozens of legal challenges.
Georgia is the President's first battlefield to impose new restrictions after Mr Biden's victory. However, legislators in 47 states this year passed 361 bills that impose new restrictions on voting.
What does the new law actually say?
The new law will give the Republican-controlled state government new powers to control the conduct of elections in Democratic counties.
Before the law was passed, the State Secretary was the chairman of the State Electoral Committee. The role has been downgraded to a non-voting board member. A new chairman is elected by the general assembly.
Rep. Rose Cannon was arrested by Capitol Police after trying to knock on the door of Governor Brian Kemp's office - AP while speaking after he signed the law
The move allows a Republican-controlled executive to temporarily take over local election offices.
Some critics also suggest that the provision is an act of revenge against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who would fail to comply with Mr Trump's request to discard the election results.
This provision is a concern of activists in large blue counties such as Fulton County, Atlanta, whose electoral administration has been attacked by Trump and other Republicans.
Fulton saw the highest turnout since 1992, with more Democrats than Republicans showing up last year.
It also limits how many postal ballot Dropboxes each county can have, how many hours and days the boxes can be open, and where they can be. A record number of people voted by postal vote last year and the majority voted for Democrats.
Governor Brian Kemp greets supporters after speaking at the Atlanta State Capitol about Major League Baseball's decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta - AP
The law states that each county cannot have more than one Dropbox per location for early voting or per 100,000 active registered voters, whichever is smaller. This provision will drastically reduce the number of Dropboxes available in some large counties.
Fulton County, which has more than a million residents, says it would go from 38 Dropboxes in the November election to eight in the future.
Postal ballot papers can only be sent to voters 29 days before an election, compared to the previous 49 days. Voters can now request a postal vote a maximum of 78 days before the election, after 180 days.
By and large, Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, who turned up in larger numbers on election day.
One of the most bizarre new laws is making it a crime for people to give or offer "money or gifts," including "food and drink," to any voter at a polling station 150 feet from where a polling station is located.
This would make it much less convenient for those who live in areas where the voting queues are much longer.
A ProPublica study of the Georgia voting during last year's primary election found the average wait time at a polling station where at least 90 percent of voters were white was six minutes. At a polling station where 90 percent of the voters were black, the waiting time was 51 minutes - an eightfold difference.
Protesters hold signs during a protest against House Bill 289 outside the state capital in Atlanta, Georgia - Shutterstock
For example, Fulton County, which has one of the highest proportions of black residents in the state, added nearly 250,000 voters but reduced the number of its polling stations.
The law considerably shortens both the total duration of the runoff campaigns and the early voting period for runoff elections from nine weeks to four. The Democrats won both of the US Senate runoff elections held in January 2021, gaining control of the chamber and surprisingly angering the GOP.
Who supports these measures?
Supporters of the new law include senior Republicans, state officials, Mr. Trump and his circle. Brain Kemp, the republican governor of the state, was one of its chief masters.
You have argued that the changes will restore voter confidence in the electoral process and make elections safer.
What was the reaction like?
Georgia’s top employers, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, have opposed the law, and Major League Baseball (MLB) said it could no longer host the Georgia All-Star game in 2021.
James Quincey, CEO of Coca-Cola Co, called the law "unacceptable" and a "step backwards". Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said: "The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: There was widespread electoral fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections."
On Monday, Will Smith said he was pulling the production of his film Emancipation from Georgia in protest. The film about a runaway slave was the largest and most famous Hollywood production to ever leave the state.
Workers load an all-star sign onto a trailer after it is removed from Truist Park in Atlanta - AP
"At this moment the nation is grappling with its history and trying to remove traces of institutional racism in order to achieve real racial justice," he said in a statement. "We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that passes regressive electoral laws designed to restrict electoral access."
A joint statement from executives at nearly 200 companies, including HP, Microsoft, PayPal, Target, Twitter, Uber, and Under Armor, targeted legislation that "threatens to make voting harder" and said "elections will not improve "if the legislature so dictates new obstacles to the vote.
Mr Biden has described it as "outrageous", "un-American" and "unconstitutional".
In response to the corporate withdrawals, Mr Trump has called for a boycott of Delta and Coca-Cola (although he's been said to have had a can of his favorite beverage since then).
The Republican-controlled house in Georgia voted to withdraw a tens of millions of dollars a year tax break from Delta for criticizing it, despite the action being challenged after the GOP Senate failed to take it up before the adjournment of the legislature would have.
Texas governor Greg Abbott said Monday that he will not throw ceremonial first place in the Texas Rangers' home opening game as planned, citing MLB's decision.
Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate chairman, hit the American company Monday, warning CEOs to stay out of the debate.
Donald Trump, who claims without evidence that the 2020 election was "rigged", has said the legislation does not go far enough - AFP
Marking a growing chasm in the decades-long alliance between the Conservative Party and corporations, McConnell said, "My advice to American CEOs is to stay out of politics. Don't vote for a party in these big struggles.
"Corporations will have dire consequences if they become a means for radical left-wing mobs to hijack our country outside of constitutional order," warned McConnell.
Big business, however, has always been a part of US politics. Corporations have long made more campaign contributions to business-friendly Republican candidates and officials.
Is Election Fraud Really a Problem?
Independent reviews have repeatedly shown that election fraud is rare in the US, and state and federal investigations have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which Republican Trump lost to Democrat Biden.
Mr Trump called for a series of recounts in states like Georgia where the result was close. Mr Biden's victory in the state has been confirmed three times.
What other states are considering similar steps?
Some of the bills in democratically controlled states like Washington, one of the first states to hold all-mail votes, have little chance of being passed.
But others are making progress: a proposal in Arizona calls for postal ballot papers to be postmarked by the Thursday before election day, even if they arrive at polling stations before the election is over.
In Alabama, a proposal to abolish direct voting is currently being examined. Critics said this was another example of a measure that would create longer queues.
However, legal scholars say that even if these laws are passed, they will be difficult to defend in court.
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