Opinions about the controversial new Georgia voting law could be found across the state Saturday, as a small group of protesters spoke out about the measure near Augusta National, while the governor continued to lambaste Major League Baseball for its decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
About two dozen protesters turned out near Augusta National to object to the voting law during the third round of the Masters. The group held signs that said “Let Us Vote” and “Protect Georgia Voting Rights,” drawing both jeers and cheers from motorists on busy Washington Road.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, meanwhile, spoke at a restaurant miles from Truist Park, where the 2021 MLB All-Star Game had been slated to be played before it was moved to Denver’s Coors Field earlier this month.
In his remarks, Kemp stepped up his attack on MLB, saying the move politicized the sport and would hurt minority-owned businesses in the area.
“It’s minority-owned businesses that have been hit harder than most because of an invisible virus by no fault of their own,” Kemp said. “And these are the same minority businesses that are now being impacted by another decision that is by no fault of their own.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said he made the decision to move the All-Star events after discussions with individual players and The Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, and that the league opposed restrictions to the ballot box.
An MLB spokesman said the league had no immediate additional comment Saturday.
Kemp spoke along with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, also a Republican, at a seafood and po’boy restaurant, though he said he didn’t think the business was minority-owned. Kemp also noted that Denver has a much smaller percentage of African Americans than Atlanta.
Georgia’s new voting law had also led to calls for the Masters to be taken out of Augusta National, but club chairman Fred Ridley said before the major began that he was against such a boycott.
The law — which opponents say is designed to reduce the impact of minority voters by making it more difficult to cast a ballot — has drawn fire from around the country. Among other things, the law imposes additional identification requirements for absentee voting, gives the GOP-run state elections board new powers to intervene in local election offices, and restricts the distribution of water and food to voters standing in long lines.
The state played a critical role in the 2020 election, narrowly going for Joe Biden in the presidential race before Georgia’s two incumbent Republican senators were defeated in a runoff by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.
Former President Donald Trump made repeated, baseless claims of fraud after his presidential loss to Biden. Democrats have assailed the law as an attempt to suppress Black and Latino votes, with Biden calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
In Augusta, the protesters received a mixed reaction. One man passing by shouted an insult against Kemp, but another yelled at protesters, “C’mon, you can vote! Get out of here!”
“This bill is death by a thousand cuts,” said one of the protesters, Marla Cureton, who is part of a women’s activist group known as No Safe Seats. “Anytime you put new restrictions on how you can vote, that’s voter suppression. We should be making it easier to vote. It’s the patriotic thing to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.