The US justice department has said it will sue Georgia over its new law limiting ballot access, in the Biden administration’s first big legal action against voting restrictions in Republican-led states.
Merrick Garland, the attorney-general, announced the move on Friday, and signalled it could be a precursor to action against other states that have adopted or are considering similar measures to limit voting.
“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of black Georgians to vote on account of their race or colour,” Garland said.
The case comes after the Biden administration and congressional Democrats suffered a setback in their efforts to advance legislation to protect voting rights nationwide. Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill this week that would have prevented states from enacting laws that would restrict voting.
Garland said that any violations of existing federal voting laws — including the 1965 Voting Rights Act — would be challenged.
The DoJ will “analyse other state laws that have been passed, and we are following the progress of legislative proposals under consideration in additional states where we believe the civil rights of Americans have been violated. We will not hesitate to act,” Garland said.