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Georgia state troopers on Thursday pulled a state lawmaker out of the Capitol and arrested her after she protested the governor as he signed sweeping voting restrictions into law. State Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat, now faces two felony charges.
SARA DONCHEY: Georgia has passed some of the most restrictive laws in the nation for who can vote, where they can vote, and when.
PAT HARVEY: Yes, and that move comes after Georgia flipped from red to blue in the presidential election. The state's governor said reforms were needed, even though there was no evidence of any voter fraud.
SARA DONCHEY: KCAL 9 political reporter Tom Wait is here with the latest information for us. Hi, Tom.
TOM WAIT: Hi there, Sara and Pat. Well, as you said, Georgia went for Biden in the last election, and two GOP senators there were unseated as well. So now Georgia's state legislature, controlled by Republicans, and the GOP governor, have passed this law. President Biden and others say the law clearly targets people of color.
A contrast of images. In this photo, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sitting in front of an antebellum era portrait of a plantation, signing Georgia's new restrictive voting rights bill, flanked by men.
PARK CANNON: Are you serious?
TOM WAIT: Meanwhile, outside Kemp's office, this scene played out. Georgia State representative Park Cannon, a Black woman, arrested and dragged from the Capitol for refusing to stop knocking on the governor's door during the signing ceremony.
Governor Kemp, defending his decision to sign the bill passed by his fellow Republicans.
BRIAN KEMP: Significant reforms to our state elections were needed.
TOM WAIT: The new law expands early voting days statewide, but also enacts stricter ID requirements on absentee ballots, reduces early voting for runoff elections, and makes it a crime to deliver food and drinks to people waiting in line to vote. Long lines are common in urban, predominantly Black parts of the state. So why the new law? Experts found no widespread election fraud in Georgia in the last election, and Governor Kemp himself once fiercely defended his state's election laws, and the results from the presidential vote.
But Kemp drew fire from former President Trump, who repeatedly falsely claimed the vote was rigged, and unleashed his own pressure campaign on state officials to overturn the results in his favor.
DONALD TRUMP: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.
TOM WAIT: Professor of politics at Loyola Marymount, Fernando Guerra.
FERNANDO GUERRA: So what they're really targeting are Democratic voters, who happen to be African-American, Asian, and Latinos in the state of Georgia.
- Protect the vote!
TOM WAIT: Activists are outraged. President Biden blasted the new law, and said the Justice Department is looking into it.
JOE BIDEN: It's an atrocity. Nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency. They passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote? You don't need anything else.
TOM WAIT: Georgia's freshman Senator Raphael Warnock went further.
RAPHAEL WARNOCK: This is Jim Crow redux, in new clothes.
TOM WAIT: But Republican state Senator Butch Miller told CBS News, he still hears from constituents concerned about election results. Republicans have largely allowed Trump's baseless claims about election fraud to go unchecked.
BUTCH MILLER: We have a lack of confidence in the ballot box and the integrity of the ballot box. And we have to restore that.
TOM WAIT: Professor Guerra says Republicans may end up deflating their own voters.
FERNANDO GUERRA: I believe that these actions will end up hurting Republicans in the long term.
TOM WAIT: Republican legislatures in other swing states are working on similar laws, but some may be stopped by Democratic governors. Pat, back to you.
PAT HARVEY: Well, Tom, before we let you go, as we know, former President Trump has sharply criticized Governor Kemp of Georgia. And today, we saw what President Biden said. Is Kemp responding?
TOM WAIT: Yes. Governor Kemp responded to the president, saying that Mr. Biden and the national media are, quote, "determined to destroy the sanctity and the security of the ballot box." And just another note here, Mr. Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992. Governor Kemp faces reelection next year. Pat, back to you.
PAT HARVEY: All right, thanks so much, Tom.
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