Plain Language Press Release

To watch an ASL video of this press release, please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRtxL7LrhmI

Disability Groups in Georgia Join the Fight Against A Law that Makes it Harder to Vote.

ATLANTA — Three big disability rights groups in Georgia yesterday joined other groups that are fighting against a Georgia voting law. The groups are: The Arc Georgia (an office of The Arc of the United States), Georgia ADAPT, and the Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO).  These groups all fight for disability rights. They all work to help people with disabilities vote. There are many other groups fighting this new Georgia voting law. This is the first time that disability groups are fighting this law too.

The voting law is called S.B. 202. The lawsuit is called “AME Church v. Kemp.” This lawsuit says that S.B. 202 is wrong and not allowed because it makes voting harder for people, especially people with disabilities. Most people have not talked about how S.B. 202 hurts people with disabilities. People with disabilities have always had a hard time voting. This law makes voting even harder.

In November 2020 and January 2021, there were elections in Georgia. Many people with disabilities and other people voted. There were lots of ways the Georgia state government made it easier to vote because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of saying more people voting was a good thing, the Georgia state government wants to make it harder for people to vote. This new law will make it especially hard for people of color and people with disabilities. This is not fair.

In March 2021, The Georgia legislature (the General Assembly) and the Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed this law, S.B. 202, in one afternoon. This was very fast!

There are many lawsuits to fight against this law. This is one lawsuit that started in March. The lawyers working on this lawsuit work at a lot of organizations. They work at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Georgia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., WilmerHale, and Davis Wright Tremaine.

Yesterday, these lawyers filed a new paper with the court. The new paper is called an “Amended Complaint.” The paper says that S.B. 202 makes voting harder for people of color and people with disabilities. S.B. 202 also makes voting harder for people who grew up using other languages and don’t know a lot of English. S.B. 202 also makes voting harder for older people and young people who are students.

The “Amended Complaint” explains that S.B. 202 breaks two federal laws by making voting harder to do. The first law is called the Americans with Disabilities Act. The second law is called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

S.B. 202 forces more people to vote by going in person, instead of allowing people to vote by mail. The lines are very long when everyone must vote in person. Long lines for people with disabilities are very hard. Some people will not be able to vote. This means that people with disabilities will not have the same opportunity as people without disabilities to vote. This breaks those two federal laws.

The new paper is available here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/amended-complaint-5

The other groups fighting with the 3 disability groups against this law are: Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Women Watch Afrika, Latino Community Fund Georgia, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Stacey Ramirez works for The Arc Georgia. Stacey said that it is already hard for people with disabilities to vote in Georgia. S.B. 202 makes voting even harder. There are more than 85,000 voters with disabilities in Georgia. This case is very important for them. Stacey said that all these people have the right to vote and be part of our democracy. If this new law stays, it will make it harder for people with disabilities to vote. That is not okay at all.

“Georgia’s voting process already presented barriers to people with disabilities and SB202 has made the process even more inaccessible in violation of the law,” said Stacey Ramirez, acting state director of The Arc Georgia. “This lawsuit is critically important to the future of over 850,000 Georgian citizens with disabilities eligible to vote who have a fundamental right to participate in our democracy. If this law is not struck down, the walls it put around our voting rights will be even harder for people with disabilities to scale, and that’s unacceptable.”

Zan Thornton works for Georgia ADAPT. Zan was in the U.S. Army and fought to protect the U.S. Constitution. Zan is a Cherokee Two-Spirit disabled veteran and an ADAPT activist. Zan says that they got involved with this lawsuit to make sure everyone can vote.

“I served in the U.S. Army, giving my body and soul to defend our Constitution. Now, as a Cherokee Two-Spirit disabled vet, and as an ADAPT activist, I joined this lawsuit to make sure every citizen — whether disabled, Black, Native American, Latinx, or Asian — can participate in the sacred act of voting,” added Zan Thornton of Georgia ADAPT.

Devon Orland works for the Georgia Advocacy Office. Devon said that voting is a really important part of our democracy. People often forget about access for people with disabilities. Devon said that S.B. 202 makes it harder for everyone to vote. But people with disabilities will have the hardest time of all.

“Voting is a fundamental right. Access for people who experience disabilities is generally an afterthought if it’s thought of at all. The change in the voting law creates new barriers for everyone but those barriers could be insurmountable for people who experience disabilities,” said Devon Orland, legal director of the Georgia Advocacy Office.

To read the “Amended Complaint,” go here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/amended-complaint-5

To read all of the legal papers and see what is happening in the case AME Church v. Kemp, please go to: https://www.aclu.org/cases/sixth-district-african-methodist-episcopal-church-v-kemp

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