EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Kemp defends signing voting law as opponents file federal lawsuit

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp is defending Georgia’s controversial new elections law and accusing opponents of attacking it only for political reasons. This comes even as a number of organizations filed a federal lawsuit asking a court to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke exclusively with the governor in a virtual 1-on-1 as Kemp remains in quarantine. He is vaccinated but was exposed to someone with COVID-19 over the weekend.

Kemp signed the law behind closed doors on Thursday and defended the way it was passed in the Georgia House and Senate and became law in the same day.

“I’ve always been passionate about making it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Kemp told Elliot. “You know, the voters in Georgia are pretty smart and I trust them to take a hard look and figure out for themselves what is really in it and what’s not.”

[EXPLAINER: What does Georgia’s new GOP election law do?]

Critics believe the Republican-controlled legislature ramrodded it through without much Democratic input. Kemp denies that and said the law came only months after deliberation.

Kemp said the new law expands weekend early voting, makes ballot drop boxes an official part of Georgia election law and replaces signature match on absentee ballots with a voter ID.

He also defended the portion banning people from providing food and water with 150 feet of polling places to voters standing in long lines.

“It should be that politicians or third party troops that have an agenda in the election shouldn’t be handing things out to voters, being able to talk to them potentially about who they’re going to vote for.

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But critics contend the new law is more about voter suppression than election integrity. In a 92-page federal lawsuit filed early Tuesday, a number of groups are asking a federal court judge to overturn the law.

The lawsuit claims several provisions of this bill, including the ban on delivering food and water to people in line, violate the first, 14th and 15th Amendment and sections of the Voting Rights Act.

“We and others quickly marched into court because we cannot let it stand. There are upcoming elections. Voters need to prepare for them and so litigation was necessary now,” Leah Aden said.

Kemp insists the critics are wrong and that their opposition is motivated only by politics.

“I knew what was coming from the other side. I knew that they were going to try to do this boycott, cancel culture and everything else,” Kemp said. “And I wanted to get out in front of that and get the bill signed and let people know what was in it.”

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