U.S. to sue Georgia over restrictive new state voting law-source

FILE PHOTO: People enter the only early-voting precinct in Swainsboro, Emanuel County, on the final day of early voting ahead of Election Day 2020, in Swainsboro, Georgia, U.S. REUTERS/Brandon Bell

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit on Friday challenging a Georgia election law that imposes new limits on voting, calling it a violation of civil rights, according to a source familiar with the decision.

The Georgia law is one of a wave of new measures passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s claims that his November election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

After a sweeping Democratic-sponsored bill aimed at protecting access to the ballot died on a party-line vote in the Senate this week, President Joe Biden vowed to take other steps to protect voting rights.

The Republican governors of Arizona, Florida and Iowa have also signed new voting restrictions this year, while state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Texas are trying to advance similar measures.

The Georgia law, signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, tightened absentee ballot identification requirements, restricted ballot drop-box use and allowed a Republican-controlled state agency to take over local voting operations. The state was a key battleground in the 2020 presidential election.

President Joe Biden, who became the first Democratic presidential candidate in three decades to win Georgia, has staunchly criticized Georgia’s new law, calling it an “atrocity.”

Trump repeatedly sought to pressure election officials in Georgia after losing the state to Biden. In a phone call to the secretary of state, Trump asked him to “find” the votes that would be needed to overturn his election loss.

He also pressured the Justice Department to oust the U.S. Attorney in the Atlanta region. His actions are now under investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

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