Biden calls Georgia’s new voting law ‘Jim Crow in the 21st century’ and ‘a blatant attack on the Constitution’

Biden White House
President Joe Biden on Friday.
  • Biden called a new voting law enacted in Georgia a "blatant attack on the Constitution."
  • The nearly 100-page GOP-backed legislation makes major changes to voting and elections in Georgia.
  • Biden said he would work to pass voting-rights laws in Congress and make his case to the people.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden on Friday called a new voting law enacted in Georgia a "blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience," likening it to "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

The 98-page piece of legislation, passed by Republicans in the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday evening, makes a number of major changes to Georgia's elections, including expanding early voting in most counties, requiring identification information for absentee ballots, and restructuring the State Elections Board to have more control over local election offices.

Last year, Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. In January, two Democrats won dual Senate runoffs in the state, handing Democrats a slim majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote.

"Yet instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote," Biden said.

One of the most controversial provisions, which Biden decried in his statement, prohibits volunteers from giving out food, water, and chairs to people waiting to vote.

While Biden's statement said the legislation "ends voting hours early," it will expand early-voting days as well as hours for most counties, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

During the three-week early-voting period, the law requires counties to hold early voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time from Monday through Friday (the law previously required early voting during "normal business hours"). It also mandates there be two Saturdays of early voting from at least 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with two optional days of Sunday voting.

Previously, counties were mandated to hold only one Saturday of early voting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they can now open polls as early as 7 a.m. and close them as late as 7 p.m.

The new rules on absentee voting, which Biden described as "rigid," require voters to submit the number on their driver's license or other state ID card to apply for an absentee ballot and submit one of those numbers or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the outer envelope of their absentee ballot for the ballot to count.

In a Friday press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden planned on working with legislative leaders to pass the For the People Act, S.1, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, two pieces of federal legislation referenced in Biden's statement.

In the statement, Biden said: "I will take my case to the American people - including Republicans who joined the broadest coalition of voters ever in this past election to put country before party. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote."

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