A Georgia state Democrat was taken away from the Statehouse in handcuffs Thursday as Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a sweeping, controversial election reform bill.
State Rep. Park Cannon from Atlanta was seen placed into a patrol car outside the building by state troopers after she was removed from the building. She had knocked on the door of Kemp’s office as he was live-streaming an announcement that he had signed the bill, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“She was instructed that no one was in the front office and to stop beating on the door,” troopers wrote in a statement after the arrest, according to FOX 5 of Atlanta.
Troopers said Cannon was booked into the Fulton County jail on charges of obstruction of law enforcement,and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings. The obstruction charge carries a potential penalty of one to five years in prison, FOX 5 reported.
Cannon was released shortly before 11:30 p.m. ET, greeted by demonstrators who had called for her release.
“We stand with Park!” the group shouted, according to FOX 5.
Prior to Kemp’s signature, the election bill was approved by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
It calls for changing the rules and processes for requesting an absentee ballot, including requiring voters to present valid forms of photo identification. It also limits drop boxes and the early voting period for runoffs.
The new law also allows the state to take over county elections or remove local elections officials if there is a determined need to intervene.
Further, it prevents food and beverages from being provided by outside groups to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.
The bill passed along party lines in both chambers of the state legislature.
Democratic Rep. Rhonda Burnough charged that the legislation was triggered by Republican-circulated lies regarding last November’s election cycle, as reported by The Associated Press.
“Georgians turned out in record-breaking numbers because they could access the ballot,” Burnough said. “Lies upon lies were told about our elections in response, and now this bill is before us built on those same lies.”
Georgia was one of the key states that the Trump campaign focused on as it honed in on unfounded claims of voter fraud during and after the 2020 presidential election. Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won Georgia by roughly 12,000 votes.
During his first news conference on Thursday, President Biden blasted what appear to be attempts to restrict voting access as “un-American” not just in Georgia, but in several states across the U.S.
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick,” Biden said. “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. I mean, this is gigantic what they’re trying to do and it cannot be sustained.”
Biden answered in the affirmative when asked if there was more he could do than simply pass voting rights legislation to stop these initiatives, though he declined to go into detail.
Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992. Democrats also won both Senate runoff elections that took place at the beginning of this year, which were crucial victories, since they gave the party a majority in the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
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