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‘Makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle’: Joe Biden slams GOP voting restrictions, here's what bizarre statement means

Georgia passed a new bill that makes it harder for minorities to vote, leading the president and others to compare it to America's Jim Crow era
UPDATED MAR 26, 2021
'Un-American and sick' Joe Biden slammed Georgia GOP's voting rights laws (Getty Images)
'Un-American and sick' Joe Biden slammed Georgia GOP's voting rights laws (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden had harsh words for the Republican Party, calling them out over their slew of new voter restriction laws. At his first-ever press conference, the president called the GOP's new laws "un-American" and "sick". He didn't stop there, adding, "It is the most pernicious thing — this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle". 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp earlier on March 25 signed into law SB 202, a sweeping bill that would among other things impose new voter identification requirements, limit ballot drop boxes and make it a crime to offer food and/or water to those waiting in line to vote. It's just one of the more than 250 bills in 43 states that Republicans are in various stages of passing. Republicans have been encouraged by former President Donald Trump's 'big lie' to restrict voter access, even though no evidence of fraud exists. 


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Since Biden made the comment, the phrase 'Jim Crow' has been trending on Twitter, with social media users slamming the GOP over the law. The battle for voter access is also being fought in the US Senate, with HR 1 currently lined up to be debated in the Senate. The Brennan Centre for Justice also noted that there are "704 bills with provisions that expand voting access in a different set of 43 states." 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signing SB 202 into law, introducing greater restrictions on voting. (Brian Kemp via Twitter)

The battle for votes

Ever since Trump lost the 2020 election, Republicans have used the 'big lie' of voter fraud to argue for stricter voting restrictions. The Georgia bill is just one of the many such ways the GOP is fighting back. Almost all the bills target minority voters, which is why many have dubbed it a 'throwback to Jim Crow'. Republicans though, argue that the bills are about improving the integrity of elections. Gov Kemp said, "Georgia will take another step toward ensuring our elections are secure, accessible, and fair."

The bill in Georgia is a worrying example of how Republican-controlled states can transform access to the ballot almost overnight. CNN noted, "The Georgia bill underwent major change in recent days — growing from a narrow, two-page bill into a sweeping omnibus package to becoming law in a little over a week." Despite opposition from activists and Black leaders, the bill passed. The state's rapidly changing demographics turned it from a Republican stronghold to a battleground state. Biden became the first Democrat to win the state in three decades, while the state sent John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the Senate flipping control back to the Democrats. 

Republicans currently control 30 of the 49 state legislatures in America, giving them full access to pass their voter reforms, which is what has worried many Democrats. During the press conference, Biden did not shy away from attacking the GOP over their actions. "What I am worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is." He went on to specify certain conditions - like banning providing water to those waiting in line and ending voting at 5 pm. It is important to note, that as of now, none of the bills proposes to end voting at 5 pm. In a tweet, he said, "The Republican efforts to block Americans from voting are sick, pernicious, and despicable."


People wait in a line to vote at the Queens Public Library during early voting for the U.S. Presidential election on October 24, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

 High-profile Dems lead the charge

Led by high-profile Democrats, social media attacked Georiga for passing its voter restriction bill and targeted Republicans over their plans. Sen Warnock tweeted, "Instead of adjusting their message, some Georgia politicians have decided to rewrite the rules with SB 202—a thinly-veiled attempt to suppress the vote. It’s Jim Crow in new clothes. We will not go back. And Congress must act to protect the sacred right to vote."

Gerogia Rep Nikema Williams added to that, tweeting, "We played by their rules & WON. Now #Georgia Republicans are changing the rules to make it harder to vote. Brian Kemp just signed a sweeping voter suppression bill into law. Here in the south we know how to fight Jim Crow. We’ll see you in court AND in Congress with #HR1."



Walter Shaub, the former Director of the US Office of Government Ethics said, "People talk about politics like it's a game sometimes. What's happening in Georgia today is immoral. This is an evil act. Evil exists and it voted for Jim Crow today." Gov Dean of Vermont said, "Is this America? Georgia legislators are going back to Jim Crow and not even trying to conceal it." One person tweeted, "The horrifying truth of Georgia’s Jim Crow voting restrictions is the only thing preventing it from being repealed is a Jim Crow Senate filibuster. This is what we mean by institutionalized racism. To achieve justice we must dismantle this entire racist apparatus of oppression."




Republicans have pushed back, hard, at the comparison. One user tweeted, "President Biden called voter integrity efforts “un-American” and “sick.” He said these efforts “make Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” The HR 1 bill he supports got ZERO GOP votes. Even the ACLU opposes its curbs on free speech. Calling opponents is racist is dishonest demagoguery." Utah Rep Burgess Owns tweeted, "Maybe if Joe Biden hadn't spent his early days pandering to the people who supported Jim Crow laws he'd remember how horrible they were. No, showing I-D to vote isn't comparable."



While Republicans are trying to limit voter access at the state level, Democrats are fighting back in the federal government. The House passed HR 1, by a 234-193 vote, but a divided Senate means that it is unlikely to pass and become law.