Fulton County officials on Wednesday passed a resolution that will allow Georgia’s most populous county to explore legal challenges to the state’s controversial voting law that was rushed into law last month.
The Board of Commissioners passed the “Stop Voter Suppression” resolution, 4-2, on party lines.
The resolution directs the Fulton County attorney to research and provide “recommendations on, any and all legal avenues to fight implementation of Georgia’s voting law, SB 202.” It also calls for recommendations on legal methods to maintain and expand equal access to the ballot box and the polls, within the current law.
The resolution is effective immediately.
Khadijah Abdur-Rahman, one of the Democratic commissioners on the board and the primary sponsor of the resolution, said the measure was necessary to “safeguard the vote.”
“Anytime we have a bullseye on our back, we have a duty to make sure that we serve the constituents,” Abdur-Rahman said Wednesday ahead of the vote. “I see it as Fulton County being on the right side of history.”
The measure aims to blunt the implementation of Georgia’s new law in Fulton County, which includes most of the city of Atlanta.
The resolution takes issue with a number of provisions in the new voting law including the state takeover of county boards of elections, a reduction in the number of drop boxes, and a ban on “line warming” — preventing volunteers from providing food and water to voters waiting in line.
The measure also takes issue with a provision in the new law that bans mobile voting. Abdur-Rahman previously said that Fulton County spent $350,000 on two mobile voting units that were used during the 2020 general election. She estimates 11,000 people used those two mobile voting units to cast ballots.
The reduction in the number of drop boxes would particularly affect Fulton County, the commissioner said. According to the new law, Fulton County would go from having 38 drop boxes countywide to just eight.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had issued a statement Tuesday that said, in part, “Fulton County’s Democrats are now taking aim at legislation that could actually bring Fulton’s voters the relief that they have been seeking for decades.”
“The bottom line is that Fulton County’s elections leadership is responsible for running elections. It is Fulton County’s elections leadership that has created long lines for their voters time and time again while other areas of the state have managed to execute successful elections,” he said. “Fulton County Democrats need to stop passing the blame to Republicans for failures they have sole control over, and actually do something about it. Fulton’s voters need more action, not more press conferences.”
The resolution also outlines support for the House-passed HR 1, or “The For the People Act,” making its way through Congress that would counter effects of Georgia’s voting law.
Two of the Republican members of the board, Commissioners Bob Ellis and Lee Morris, argued the resolution was partisan.
“There’s no way for a White man in America could understand the feelings that people of color have about these really important issues,” Morris said Wednesday ahead of the vote.
“I think all of this will be resolved in the courts quite frankly and then if the courts don’t overturn Senate Bill 202, and I’m not sure that there’s a great chance of them overturning the law. Then maybe the ballot box will do that some day.”
“I would love to see the day when we don’t debate about voter suppression and Jim Crow laws,” he added.
This story has been updated with a statement from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.