Democratic lawmakers and the White House reiterated that voter suppression was prominent in Georgia during the midterm election despite record voter turnout and Sen. Raphael Warnock’s, D-Ga., resounding electoral victory.
Led by Warnock, Democrats argued that their victory in Georgia was in spite of large voter suppression that occurred during the election and pointed to the long lines that some voters had to wait in while it was raining on Tuesday. The lawyers also doubled down on their previous criticism of a state law reforming how elections are conducted throughout the state.
“Now there will be those both in our state and across the country who will point to our victory tonight and try to use it to argue there is no voter suppression in Georgia,” Warnock said during his victory speech Tuesday evening.
“Let me be clear. The fact that millions of Georgians endured hours in lines – and were willing to spend hours in line – lines that wrapped around buildings and went on for blocks, lines in the cold, lines in the rain, is most certainly not a sign voter suppression does not exist,” he continued. “Instead, it is proof that you, the people, will not allow your voices to be silenced. And I am proud to stand with you.”
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed Warnock’s comments Wednesday, saying that voters overwhelmed voter suppression to cast their ballots for the incumbent Democratic senator.
“Despite the efforts of the Republican legislature to make it harder to vote, our people voted, people voted, Georgians voted,” Schumer told reporters. “They said, ‘We’re not going to let these barriers stand in our way, even if we have to wait in line in the rain.'”
Schumer added that the victory was an example of how Americans want to defeat “extreme MAGA candidates” and how their policies would harm democracy.
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“Georgia is the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, and Black voters overwhelmed appalling voter suppression to re-elect Senator Warnock,” Rep. Mondaire Jones, DN.Y., tweeted Wednesday. “They were inspired by his leadership de él and turned off by the GOP’s cynical nomination of his opponent de él. I saw it firsthand on the ground.”
While Warnock won a majority of the vote during the midterm election in early November, he failed to attain more than 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff election between him and GOP candidate Herschel Walker on Tuesday. Warnock handily defeated Walker by nearly 100,000 votes, according to the latest state figures.
The runoff represented the conclusion of the election cycle in which Georgia recorded a series of voter turnout milestones. The state reported more votes cast than any other midterm ever, record-breaking early vote turnout and more election day voting during the runoff than any of the three previous election days, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.
However, Democrats and left-wing groups have sharply criticized the state over election reform legislation, SB 202, that it passed last year. They argued the law was an example of voter suppression while supporters of the bill said its provisions protected voter integrity.
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In June 2021, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Georgia alleging that the legislation included racially discriminatory provisions.
“I’m not going to speak to the Department of Justice legal actions. That’s something for them to speak to,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre remarked during a press briefing Wednesday. “You guys all reported that there was suppression, that we saw that throughout the Georgia election. So, that is something that was reported on. So, I leave it to those reports.”
“But look, even with that, the American people came out, they came out in a historic fashion to make their voices loud and clear,” she added.
In addition, several political commentators also argued that voter suppression took place in Georgia despite record voter turnout.
MSNBC hosts Joy Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell and Nicole Wallace all agreed during a discussion Tuesday that suppression took place. Reid said Republican Gov. Brian Kemp was a “champion voter suppressor” and O’Donnell added that Warnock would have won by 300,000 votes if not for voter suppression.
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“So grateful for every organizer, activist and voting rights attorney who focused on ensuring that Georgia voters could meet the challenges of Georgia’s voter suppression law SB 202 and cast their votes,” Sherrilyn Ifill, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund, tweeted Tuesday evening following Warnock’s victory.
“It took work. Relentless work. Don’t forget that.”