April 20, 2021

Durbin Questions Stacey Abrams and Georgia Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones on New Georgia Voting Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today asked questions during the Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote”. Durbin asked Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight Action and former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, to explain why it’s false to suggest Georgia’s new voting law expands the right to vote for Georgians of color.

“I think the bottom line question we are addressing in this hearing is whether there is a design or intent in legislation that is being considered and passed in many states, including the state of Georgia, to limit or restrict the right to vote of minority populations, with the intent of influence on the outcome of an election,” Durbin said. “The Speaker Pro Tempore, Ms. Jones, said earlier that the law made it easier to vote…can you think of elements in the law signed by Governor Kemp which do the opposite?”

Abrams said it was a falsity to say the new law is an expansion of rights, citing, for example, reductions in mandatory early voting during federal runoffs. Abrams says it is also a falsity to say the law expands hours for voting, because the law codified 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM as voting hours; however, for years, Georgians were able to vote from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, which is now merely an optional expansion for local election officials. Abrams concluded by saying the criminalization of bringing food or water to voters in lines will make it harder for people to vote because it is commonplace for four- to eight-hour lines in Georgia’s communities of color, and that people don’t come prepared to stand in line that long. 

Durbin then asked Jan Jones, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Georgia House of Representatives, whether she believed there was voter fraud in the 2020 election, and what reasoning is behind the new Georgia voting law.

“I’m trying to understand the logic behind new voting laws which would give less time to request absentee ballots, place new ID requirements for absentee ballots, make it illegal for election officials to mail absentee ballot applications, and the like,” Durbin said. “If the election in 2020 was sound, why the changes that restricted certain practices that created opportunities for people to vote in Georgia?”

Jones did not say whether she believed there was voter fraud in the 2020 election, and answered by repeating talking points that she believes the new law will increase voting and ensure more people use absentee ballots.

Durbin said of her assertion: “I would just say, in conclusion, that giving Georgia voters less time to request absentee ballots and shutting down the number of drop boxes from 94 to 23 [in metropolitan Atlanta counties] cannot make it easier to vote or create more opportunity. I think just the opposite is the case.”

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

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