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Georgia voting rights advocates urge action from Pres. Biden, VP Harris ahead of Atlanta visit

They urged Biden and Harris to stay in Washington D.C. to focus on passing legislation that would make an impact for voting rights across the nation.

ATLANTA — Advocates from several Georgia voting rights organizations came together Monday afternoon to urge President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to take action ahead of their visit to Atlanta Tuesday

The voting coalition is made up of representatives from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council, Black Voters Matter Fund, GALEO Impact Fund, Inc., New Georgia Project Action Fund along with James Woodall, the former president of the Georgia NAACP. The organizations have been working together since 2020 battling voter suppression and the fight for voting rights. 

During the press conference, the coalition said they were not going to attend Biden and Harris' speech when they come to Atlanta. Instead, they urged Biden and Harris to stay in Washington D.C. to focus on passing legislation that would make an impact and expand voting rights threatened by the filibuster – the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and Freedom to Vote Act.

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"We don't need another speech, what we need is action," Cliff Albright, of Black Voters Matter Fund, said.

Woodall added the legislation, currently stalled in the U.S. Senate, would help not only voters in Georgia but across the nation. 

"The louder and more powerful our voices grow, the more aggressive and more sophisticated our state's voter suppression tactics become to drown out our voices," said Phi Nguyen, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. "We have stood hand-in-hand with voters across the state fighting bad legislation both at the state capitol and when necessary in the courtroom. We expect to continue to do that this year."

As a coalition, the advocates said they want to make sure every person's voice is heard and to ensure voting rights are expanded for everyone. 

The coalition has currently been focused on keeping polling places open in Black neighborhoods in Lincoln County, after a proposal to close all but one in the county. 

Additionally, work is being done inside the state capitol to fight anti-dropbox legislation and other threats to Georgians' voting access. In Gwinnett County, the coalition said advocates are working with local leaders to battle gerrymandering proposals that affect the county's governance and school boards. Across the state, the coalition said it's been fighting a flood of removals of Black board of election members in counties throughout Georgia. 

"Georgians know all too well the urgency of this fight, and our demand is that our federal leaders act with that same urgency. There is no time to waste," the coalition said in a joint statement Monday. 

The coalition plans to hold another press conference Tuesday after Biden's remarks. 

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