Savannah-Area Coalition Denounces The Current Georgia Voter Suppression Bills

Calls for Accountability among State Representatives

A collaborative of Savannah-Area Community

Organizations have joined together as the South

Georgia Coalition for the Advancement of Voters’

Rights to call for the rejection of the current voter suppression bills, accountability for state-level elected officials representing Savannah, and a state policy agenda that protects voters’ rights and expands accessibility for all voters.

We, the South Georgia Coalition for the Advancement of Voters’ Rights, are calling for a state policy agenda that increases voter participation, accessibility, equity, and the rejection of HB531, SB241, and SB202, pieces of legislation which suppress the vote by constructing institutional and economic barriers and creating confusion to limit the voting power of our community.

We would like to remind the residents of Savannah and the surrounding area of Georgia’s long and painful history of voter suppression rooted in white supremacy. Voter suppression has its roots in lynchings, violence, grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests, codified by Jim Crow measures like white primaries and the County Unit System, which existed until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1963. From the purge of voter rolls in 2017 to the current voter suppression bills: HB 531, SB241, and SB202, a trail of violence, racism, and institutional and socio-economic barriers continues to stain Georgia’s history of suffrage.

The persistent measures taken to deny and limit the vote of the Black community in particular, as well as the Latino, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Immigrant, low-income and working class Georgians, through violence and institutional barriers, has long scarred the people of Georgia. There can be no equivocation: HB531, SB241, and SB202 are racist, anti-democratic, anti-Georgia bills designed to consolidate the power of a small privileged minority of Georgia’s population, who maintain an illegitimate grip on the state legislature through anti-democratic measures such as gerrymandering and voter suppression.

We are calling for accountability from our state legislators GA State Representatives Ron Stephens, Jesse Petrea and Bill Hitchens, as well as State Senator Ben Watson, all of whom were elected to represent us in Chatham County and the surrounding areas. Instead, they have sought to limit the voice of their own constituencies, continuing Georgia’s painful legacy of voter suppression rooted in white supremacy and the relentless exploitation of working class Georgians of every color and background.

We call on the Savannah City Council, the Chatham County Commission and all other governing bodies in Chatham County to formally condemn HB531, SB241, and SB202.

We bring attention to the lawsuit brought forward by the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise challenging several provisions of SB202 as well as the lawsuit brought forward by the League of Women Voters of Georgia, the Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Georgia Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause, and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe. We stand in solidarity with the important efforts taken by these groups to advocate for a fair and democratic voting system through litigation.

We denounce the arrest and felony charge of obstruction against State Rep. Park Cannon, following her knocking on the governor’s office before being dragged away by state patrol troopers. The charges and arrest are a baldfaced attempt to silence and intimidate not only representative Cannon, but all who speak out against the current voter suppression bills.

We emphasize the need for the passage of the For the People Act (H.R.1) and the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R.4), congressional bills which will protect and expand the voting rights of Georgians and all Americans at the federal level.

Regardless of your political affiliation, race, class, or ethnicity, these bills actively limit your freedom, your voice, and the political power of your community. If you believe in liberty, dignity, and the right of self-determination for yourself and all Georgians, join us in opposing these shameless attempts to limit our freedom and one of our most fundamental rights.

Contact:Savannah Undocumented Youth Alliance (La SUYA), Coalition Coordinator, La SUYA Researcher and Organizer: Devin McGrath, devinjamesmcgrath@gmail.com

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