Georgia Democratic Sen. Ralph Warnock harshly criticized state Republicans on Sunday morning, saying it was a “distortion in values” that the GOP-controlled legislature remained focused on limiting voting rights in the wake of the massacre of eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta massage parlors last week. Robert Aaron Long, the accused murderer, purchased the 9mm handgun that he allegedly used the same day as the rampage, taking advantage of Georgia’s lax gun laws.
“This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm, but right now what is our legislature doing? They’re busy under the golden dome here in Georgia trying to prevent people from voting the same day they register,” Warnock said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “I think that suggests a distortion in values, when you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day but if you want to exercise your right to vote as a US citizen, the same legislature that should be focusing on this is busy erecting barriers to that Constitutional right.”
EXCLUSIVE: @SenatorWarnock reacts to Atlanta shootings: “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm but right now what is our legislature doing? … [Preventing] people from being able to vote the same day they register.” pic.twitter.com/a4NVt1OqWN
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 21, 2021
As my colleague Ari Berman reported earlier this month, Georgia legislators have been focused on a series of laws that appear to be designed to make it harder for many Georgians, including African American and predominantly Democratic voters, to vote. As he wrote on March 8:
The legislators approved a bill repealing no-excuse absentee voting, which 1.3 million voters used to cast ballots by mail in 2020, including 450,000 Republicans. They were also set to consider a bill on Monday evening ending automatic voter registration, which 5 million of the state’s 7.6 million voters used to register since it was implemented in 2016.
The Senate bills follow the passage of a sweeping House bill last week that cuts weekend voting days—including on Sundays, when Black churches hold “Souls to the Polls” get-out-the-vote drives—restricts the use of mail ballot drop boxes, prevents counties from accepting grants from nonprofits to improve their elections, adds new voter ID requirements for mail ballots, gives election official less time to send out mail ballots and voters less time to return them, and even makes it a crime to distribute food and water to voters waiting in line.
This wasn’t Warnock’s first tough critique of Georgia’s GOP legislators: On Wednesday, he took to the Senate floor to call the wave of restrictive bills “Jim Crow in new clothes.”