Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is pushing back against new voting restrictions approved by the Republican-controlled Georgia state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in March. Lance Bottoms signed an administrative order of her own Tuesday directing city officials to create a plan to “mitigate the impact” of the new rules.
The new rules impose onerous requirements on voting by mail, limit the number of drop-boxes ballots where can be deposited and the hours they will be available to voters, and reduces the number polling places in cities like Atlanta (while expanding the number in more rural areas), and make it easier for state officials to depose local election officials. Republican officials crafted the law in the wake of a series of bruising election losses in November and January.
On Tuesday, Lance Bottoms directed Atlanta’s Chief Equity Officer, Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim, to come up with a response that will help preserve residents’ access to the ballot box. Included in the order are directives that city staff members are offered training on the new voter registration, early, absentee, and in-person voting rules, in order to better educate city residents about them. Lance Bottoms is also asking that the city departments include information on voter registration and absentee voting in water bills and other mailings.
“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents — particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said in a statement. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not — expand access to our right to vote.”
The order comes on the heels of Atlanta losing the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The league decided to relocate the event to Colorado in protest of the new restrictions. (Atlanta and its hometown team, the Braves, were selected to host the July extravaganza back in 2019.)
Brian Kemp blasted the league’s decision. “Major League Baseball caved to the fears and lies of liberal activists,” he said last week. “They ignored the facts of our new election integrity law and they ignored the consequences of their decision on our local community.”
Speaking to Axios earlier this week, Lance Bottoms — who played a key role in securing the 2021 All-Star game — said, “I don’t like that our state is being boycotted. I don’t like it because metro Atlanta is being hit specifically hard… That being said, I understand it, and I respect that [the MLB has] taken a stance and that they have responded to what is being seen as an attack on the right to vote in our state… I don’t want small businesses to suffer, I don’t want our state to lose $100 million, potentially, in revenue from the All-Star game — but this is what happens when you put laws in place that obstruct people’s right to vote.”