CNN “New Day” host Victor Blackwell went toe to toe with GOP campaign consultant Alice Stewart on Saturday morning when the conservative attempted to defend a law passed by Georgia Republicans that would make it a crime to pass out bottles of water to voters forced to stand in long lines on election day.
Appearing with Democratic counterpart Maria Cardona, Stewart defended the overall bill, saying it would make elections more “transparent” — which received pushback from the CNN host — before she was asked about the water bottle provision which is when Blackwell grilled her.
“The goal here, Victor, as I continue to say, I was on the ground in Georgia back in December,” Stewart attempted. “I saw the people coming out, there are certain components of the election process that did need to be addressed. I’ve said earlier –”
“Like giving them water,” Blackwell interrupted.
“There was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia — there was none whatsoever,” Stewart conceded. “But there were areas that needed to be addressed and that’s exactly what the lawmakers are doing. As for handing out water, election workers can hand out water while voters are in line.”
“Why make it illegal for volunteers to come up and give people water/” Blackwell pressed.
“Election volunteers can give water,” Stewart replied before repeating, “Election volunteers can give water.”
“Alice, they’re running the election, “: Blackwell shot back. “So they have jobs, right? People were volunteering just to help people who were standing in line. Let’s remember where people are standing in line, in Gwinnett, in DeKalb, in Fulton, counties where there are a majority of black voters, a concentration of voters who put President Biden in the White House, the eight-hour lines are not often in the other 156 counties in this state. To give somebody water, you make that a crime?”
“I think that — that aspect of this bill was not necessary,” Stewart conceded. “The key is what they wanted to make sure that people were not giving out food and water to people in line that have a political message. That was the goal. so what they did instead was completely eliminate people working on a campaign or with a political message.”
“I’ve got the bill up here right now,” Blackwell replied. “Let’s just be clear about this. Let me just read from the bill. It says that no person shall solicit votes and goes on to say nor shall any person, give, offer or participate in the giving of money, food, gifts, if not limited to food and drink to an elector. It’s not just people with campaigns.”
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Georgia’s ‘Jim Crow’ Voting Bill Is Likely to Blow Up in Republicans’ Faces: Analysis
In a column for NBC, attorney Teri Kanefield claimed that the highly restrictive voter suppression bill signed into law by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp could come back to hurt the GOP in the state.
Aside from possible boycotts that could damage an economy that is already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic that raged out of control under former president Donald Trump, the attorney suggested that a wave of lawsuits — including from President Joe Biden’s Justice Department — could gut the bill leaving Republicans with just a bad public relations backlash to show for their efforts.
As Kanefield writes, there are ways that opponents of the bill can fight back that could put the GOP lawmakers who passed the bill back on their heels.
“The provisions that make it harder for people to vote and the nonsensical provisions can be overridden by federal legislation. The Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to regulate federal elections: Article I, Section 4 gives it the power to make or alter rules for conducting federal elections. The 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment prevent states from discriminating based on race,” she wrote. “Because so many of these restrictive provisions disproportionally affect minority voters, lawsuits are already being filed challenging the law.”
What could hurt Republicans in the state even more is the recent history of the GOP trying to tamp down the vote — only to see it backfire.
“As we saw in the April primaries, when Republicans in Wisconsin tried to make it harder for people to vote, people don’t like it when they feel their voices are being suppressed. The Wisconsin Republicans faced a backlash from voters, who turned up in massive numbers, viewing the hurdles erected by Republicans as a challenge. As a result, Democrats scored an important win when challenger Jill Karofsky ousted conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly from the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” the attorney wrote. “Georgia already has a well-organized voter support team, Fair Fight, headed by Stacey Abrams.”
More importantly, she added, is the message Republican lawmakers sent to voters.
“The Republicans are also on notice: Citizens are not likely to vote for the party that passes mean-spirited and anti-democratic laws. In the words of Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman, the Georgia Republicans may have ‘just handed Democrats their best turnout tool for 2022 & beyond.’ After all, when a party outlaws giving water to voters stuck in long lines, what does it say about their values?” she asked.
You can read the whole piece here.
Georgia GOP Governor Kemp Quickly Signs Massive Voter Suppression Bill Into Law One Hour After Passage
Despite three recounts and virtually no voter fraud Republican Governor Brian Kemp has just signed into law a massive, 95-page voter suppression bill. As Secretary of State Kemp manipulated the voter rolls ensuring his win in the gubernatorial race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.
The Atlanta Journal Constition reports Gov. Kemp “quickly signed a vast rewrite of Georgia’s election rules into law Thursday, imposing voter ID requirements, limiting drop boxes and allowing state takeovers of local elections after last year’s close presidential race.”
The Georgia House passed the sweeping legislation around 2 PM Thursday in a 100-75 vote. At 5:23 PM the Senate passed the bill. Barely one hour later Kemp signed it into law.
The voter suppression law “includes new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run,” the AP reports.
“We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we’ve seen since the Jim Crow era,” Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler said, adding the new law is filled with “voter suppression tactics.”
The law targets minority communities the most, making it harder for people of color to vote.
“It’s like the Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression,” Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan said Thursday, CNN had reported.
Voting rights expert Ari Berman says Kemp’s new law allows “GOP takeover of state/county election boards, unlimited challenges to voter eligibility, restricting drop boxes & making it crime to give voters food & water in line.”
“It will be challenged in court,” he promises.
Brian Kemp has signed Georgia GOP voter suppression bill #sb202
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 25, 2021
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