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We will continue to fight in Georgia for 'equal access to the ballot': Rise Strategist

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Mary-Pat Hector, Rise Inc. Program Strategist, joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers and Alexis Christoforous to discuss the federal lawsuit and boycotts over Georgia’s voting restrictions.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: The Augusta National kicks off in Georgia, as the pressure continues to mount over the passage of bills that many say will suppress the vote. Now several lawsuits have been filed to fight the measures, including one on behalf of the nonprofit Rise. We're joined now by Mary-Pat Hector, program strategist at Rise Incorporated. So Mary, your organization filed a lawsuit against the state for the bills that they passed. Wondering if you think that there's a shot that this could be overturned in the courts.

MARY-PAT HECTOR: Absolutely I believe that there's a shot because what we're witnessing right now is Jim Crow 2.0. It is completely illegal to suppress the vote and throw up burdens. It's against people's civil rights. And so we're hoping that this lawsuit will indeed overturn Senate Bill 202 and that minority and poor and disabled voters continue to have their right to vote and are able to exercise that with no burdens.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Mary-Pat, in the lawsuit, can you tell us how you guys have laid out why you think that these new voter laws are indeed voter suppression?

MARY-PAT HECTOR: Sure, well, one, I don't want to go too deep into the lawsuit to, I guess, disrupt our litigation. But what I will say is, again, it is completely against someone's civil right to impose unnecessary and burdensome voter suppression laws that prevent them from accessing their ballot. Some of these burdens include unnecessary new identification requirements for absentee voting, banning mobile polling places, restricting the use of absentee dropboxes, just to name a few.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: But I'm just going to follow up on that for a moment. You know, this question about ID keeps coming up. And it's certainly not something new. And it's something that we've seen many states implement. Many countries have even implemented it, that people should have some form of photo ID on them. Do you believe that they should not, and why should Georgia be different?

MARY-PAT HECTOR: Absolutely. We're not saying that Georgia should be different when it comes to voter ID laws. What we're referring to specifically is absentee ballots and just the burdens that come with being able to prove or submit your ID in a specific time, now that they're minimizing time for early voting. And we just want to ensure that when people are voting absentee, when these things or these laws have not been put in place before and there was no voter fraud, but you're specifically throwing these in people's way just to suppress the vote, that is extremely problematic. And that's what we're arguing. And that's why we are in this lawsuit currently.

KRISTIN MYERS: Now as I mentioned, the Masters has kicked off in Georgia. And it was largely expected that they were not going to move. I know there was a lot of calls for the Masters to essentially pull out of the state over the passage of these bills, which is similar to what we saw from Major League Baseball. But I haven't really seen too many other companies doing too much beyond the MLB pulling that All-Star Game. Do you think that other companies are willing at this juncture to participate in some sort of economic boycott of this state?

MARY-PAT HECTOR: Well, I'm happy that we saw organizations like Delta and others standing up, saying enough is enough. I'm hoping that more will decide to stand up and not do-- host their events to pretty much make a stance. But what we've seen historically when there are moments like this in history when companies take a stand, things start to happen and people begin to talk. And what we really want is to continue the conversation around the importance of ensuring that voter suppression does not continue to happen, not just in the state of Georgia, but honestly, across the country.

And as companies that, you know, always come out and talk about issues that impact minority and poor people in this country, voter suppression is indeed one of those issues that continue to impact us. And so we're asking them to stand on many of the things that they've said in the past, through Black Lives Matter and other movements, to keep that same energy and stand with us. Because our vote matters.

KRISTIN MYERS: You know, this is not the first bill of alleged voter suppression that has been passed, even in the United States. And it's also not the first bill that right now is even being proposed. 43 states right now in the country are trying to pass similar legislation to what Georgia recently passed. And we've seen often legal cases have been mounted, and they have, sadly, failed. Boycotts have been mounted plenty of times against companies, against states, and they oftentimes do not always work.

So what then? What if the legal case that you filed that other, even, organizations have also filed do not work? What if the boycotts don't work? This law continues to stand in Georgia. What then? What does Rise do then? What does organizations like the New Georgia Project, who are suing the state with, what do you guys do then? What's the next step?

MARY-PAT HECTOR: You know, people said the same thing to us in 2018, where we witnessed voter suppression and such, you know, in many different ways. And people asked, what now? What are you going to do? And in 2020, we showed them that we were going to turn up, and we did in record breaking numbers. And we're not going to give up. These organizations, as well as ours, have been fighting. And we will continue to fight to ensure that every Georgian has equal access to the ballot.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Mary-Pat Hector, program strategist from Rise, thanks so much for joining us today.