The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia, the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board, accusing them of passing laws that make it harder to vote in predominately Black areas. The DOJ is specifically focused on striking down Senate Bill 202, which includes several provisions that hinder voters, such as making it illegal to provide food to voters in line and requiring ID for those voting by absentee ballots. 

In addition, the law allows state officials to take over local elections boards and limits the use of ballot drop boxes, CNN reported

“The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination," Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, told NewsOne. "Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”

Republicans pushed for the measure during the 2020 election, hoping to reelect former President Donald Trump. Democrats, however, compared the bill to Jim Crow-era voting laws.

"This lawsuit filed is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote, that all lawful votes are counted and that every voter has access to accurate information," Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference Friday.

Civil Rights Division leader Kristen Clarke said the Georgia bill is specifically designed to restrict Black voters.

"These legislative actions occurred at a time when the Black population in Georgia continues to steadily increase and after a historic election that saw record voter turnout across the state, particularly for absentee voting, which Black voters are now more likely to use than White voters," Clarke said. "Our complaint challenges several provisions of SB 202 on the grounds that they were adopted with the intent to deny or a bridge, Black citizens, equal access to the political process."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp condemned the DOJ's lawsuit, saying the complaint is "born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia's Election Integrity Act from the start."

The Republican adds that President Joe Biden's administration is "weaponizing the US Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy."

The DOJ plans to file more federal civil lawsuits against states that have passed restrictive voting laws. According to Garland, 14 states have committed such infractions so far this year. 

"We're looking at laws that were passed before, as well as the ones that have been recently passed, and as they are being passed, and we'll make the same kind of judgment that we made with respect to this one," the attorney general said.

Georgia's voting laws have also been challenged in court by several voting rights groups and have been condemned by corporations such as the MLB, which pulled its All-Star Game out of the state in protest, as Blavity previously reported.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the DOJ's lawsuit "speaks to the level of urgency that is needed to protect our fragile democracy and ensure that all voices are heard."