Democratic leaders, including President Biden and Stacey Abrams, have characterized Georgia’s election-integrity law as a throwback to the Jim Crow era, charging it suppresses the minority vote.
So when Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, had the opportunity during a Senate hearing Tuesday, he asked Abrams directly if she thinks the law — which is less restrictive than laws in many states, including Biden’s Delaware — is “a racist piece of legislation.”
Abrams, in a tense exchange, answered in the affirmative.
“I think there are components of it that are indeed racist because they use racial animus as a means of targeting the behaviors of certain voters to eliminate their participant and limit their participation in elections,” Abrams said.
Cornyn then asked if she believed the Georgia legislature made “deliberate attempts to suppress the minority vote.”
“Yes,” she replied.
Cornyn pointed out that the Georgia law allows for no-excuse voting while states led by Democrats such as Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York do not.
Are the laws in those states racist? Cornyn asked.
Those laws “need to be improved,” she said, insisting they indeed target certain communities, which makes them racist.
Referring to the expansion of mail-in voting, Abrams said Georgia “targeted communities that used these resources for the first time to their benefit.”
“And that’s after 15 years of Republican-dominated use of absentee balloting it suddenly changed its mind about the utility, the processing, the timeliness,” she said.
Cornyn interrupted, as Abrams apparently wasn’t answering his question, saying it’s apparent she believes voter ID laws are racist.
Abrams insisted she supports voter ID laws but maintained the Georgia law disproportionately affects minorities, removing some 200,000 voters from the election process.
Cornyn was perplexed: “Sometimes it’s racist, sometimes it’s not racist?”
“The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation,” Abrams replied. “That is the point of the Jim Crow narrative, that Jim Crow did not simply look at the activities. It looked at the intent, it looked at the behaviors and it targeted behaviors that were disproportionately used by people of color.”
See an excerpt of the exchange:
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): Is the Georgia election law… a racist piece of legislation?
Stacey Abrams: I think there are components of it that are indeed racist…
Cornyn: So you believe that the GA legislature made deliberate attempts to suppress the minority vote?
Abrams: Yes. pic.twitter.com/QBgUMJTKyk
— The Recount (@therecount) April 20, 2021
At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., addressed Abrams’ labeling of the law as “Jim Crow.”
“You publicly attacked the Georgia law as ‘Jim Crow no fewer than 10 times,” Cotton said.
The Arkansas senator asked her if she regretted her “central role” in Major League Baseball’s decision to remove the All-Star Game from Atlanta.
She said she did not agree with the decision but sees the value in boycotts.
“I support anyone who will try to stop this type of bad behavior,” she said.
Days before the Major League Baseball made the decision earlier this month, Biden called the Georgia law “Jim Crow on steroids.” The president made false statements about the law that drew “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post fact-checker.
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