Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an administrative order to “mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed by Senate Bill 202,” according to a press released issued by her office late Wednesday afternoon.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents—particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said in a press release. “This administrative order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not — expand access to our right to vote.”

The order directs the city’s chief equity officer to develop a plan of action to expand opportunity and access to the ballot box, including: 

  • Coordinating with ATL311 and the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services to provide training to staff members on voter registration and general information on early, absentee, and in-person voting, in order that they may communicate this information to residents.
  • Coordinating with ATL311 and the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services to disseminate information to  residents on how to obtain the forms of identification required for absentee voting.
  • Coordinating with the Operational Departments to include QR Codes or links to websites providing information regarding voter registration and absentee voting in water bills and other mailings.
  • Working with corporate and community partners to develop and implement public service announcements and other communications to provide clarity on new voting related deadlines and timelines.

The administrative order comes in the wake of corporate backlash against the restrictive new voting laws and Major League Baseball moving this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado.

The new voting law, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, has already drawn a flurry of lawsuits from civil rights organizations who claim the measures will impact the ability of Black people to vote.

The law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots; empowers state officials to take over local elections boards; legalizes but limits the use of ballot drop boxes; allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s qualifications; cuts the runoff election period from nine to four weeks; shortens the time voters have to request an absentee ballot; and criminalizes giving food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.

The law also expands early voting by requiring it on two Saturdays rather than one. And it removes the Georgia secretary of state as chair of the State Election Board, instead making that position one elected by the General Assembly.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.