DGA Leaders Denounce Georgia’s “Voter Suppression Law”

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“We urge you to reconsider your support for this misguided law and to make every effort to unwind its restrictions before it takes full effect on July 1st,” wrote the directors guild’s leaders.

As Hollywood continues to roll out its condemnations of Georgia’s new election law, the Directors Guild of America has unleashed one of the strongest critiques yet.

The guild’s president Thomas Schlamme and its national executive director Russell Hollander sent a letter directly to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, writing that the bill “threatens to undermine the pillar of our democracy.” They went on to denounce the bill for “reviving discredited practices intended to suppress the voice of Black people and other people of color that were so common in the days before the landmark Voting Rights Act.”

Schlamme and Hollander note that the DGA has long been a supporter of Georgia’s entertainment industry, helping to create nearly 45,000 jobs and more than $3.64 billion in wages. “However, as a leading voice representing creative workers in the industry, we are compelled to denounce SB 202, which will disenfranchise our members, and disproportionately impact our members of color, and millions of other hardworking Georgians,” they wrote.

The law, which was signed by Kemp on March 25, ushers in more rigid voter restrictions like ID requirements for absentee voting, limits the number of ballot drop boxes and makes it illegal to give food and water to voters in line. It has drawn widespread criticism from voting rights groups and Democrats, with President Biden calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”

Other Hollywood studios and guilds, including ViacomCBS, SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, have noted their opposition to the law. Tyler Perry, who runs a studio out of Atlanta, said that he was resting his hope “in the DOJ taking a hard look at this unconstitutional voter suppression law that harkens to the Jim Crow era.”

Ford v. Ferrari director James Mangold said he would not film another film in the state, and Stars Wars actor Mark Hamill voiced his support for pulling business from Georgia. But boycotting the state remains a subject of much debate, and local leaders like Stacey Abrams have cautioned against it. Last week, Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star game from Georgia in response to the bill.

Read the DGA’s full letter to Governor Kemp, which Deadline was the first to report, here:

Dear Governor Kemp:

On behalf of the more than 18,000 members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), including more than 400 who make their home in Georgia, and hundreds more who choose Georgia as the location for their film and television projects, we write to condemn the voter suppression law Senate Bill 202, which threatens to undermine the pillar of our democracy – the right to vote. President Biden has referred to the law both as an “atrocity” and as a modern-day version of Jim Crow.

The DGA is a labor organization that represents the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports, and new media. The DGA has long been a supporter of the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act that has driven increased motion picture and television production in the state in recent years, spurring economic activity that supports 44,070 jobs and more than $3.64 billion in wages. However, as a leading voice representing creative workers in the industry, we are compelled to denounce SB 202, which will disenfranchise our members, and disproportionately impact our members of color, and millions of other hardworking Georgians.

Our jobs involve long hours (often 12 hours or more a day) and frequent weekend work. They take us to sound stages and shooting locations across county lines as well as international borders, on assignments that may last up to a year or more. Because of our arduous work schedules, our members have a particular need to avail themselves of early and absentee voting. And they will be particularly at risk of the new law’s limitations on ballot drop boxes, early voting in run-offs, and absentee voting.
We vehemently reject the notion that making it harder to vote is consistent with America’s democratic values. SB 202 revives discredited practices intended to suppress the voice of Black people and other people of color that were so common in the days before the landmark Voting Rights Act, such as allowing for unlimited challenges to a voter’s registration – a notorious tactic used to racially profile and intimidate voters of color.

SB 202 will clearly suppress the vote in Georgia. For example, in the racially diverse Atlanta metro area where many of our members of color live, the number of registered voters far exceeds the availability of polling places. Voting lines have been particularly long in nine Atlanta area counties with large Black populations (Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, DeKalb, Cobb, Hall, Cherokee, Henry and Clayton), which include nearly half of Georgia’s active voters but only 38% of the polling places. To provide too few polling places, and then to impose new restrictions on early and absentee voting, is a choice to burden the right to vote – a burden which falls disproportionately on Georgia’s Black voters and other voters of color.

Our members, like other working people in the labor movement, have a voice on the job through the DGA. But we must also have a voice in our government through the right to vote. We stand in solidarity with the other unions, corporations and individuals that have spoken out in protest to SB 202. We support the fight for free and fair elections in Georgia and elsewhere.

We urge you to reconsider your support for this misguided law and to make every effort to unwind its restrictions before it takes full effect on July 1st.

Sincerely,

Thomas Schlamme and Russell Hollander
President and National Executive Director
, 
Directors Guild of America

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