This 64-year-old grandmother has been going door-to-door for more than 15 years to encourage people to vote who, without her, might fall through the cracks.

Georgia, in the American South, is seen as crucial by both Republicans and Democrats in the legislative elections in November, decisive for the presidency of Joe Biden.

But voting is getting harder and harder, Ms Hill laments, citing an unprecedented barrage of complex restrictions.

The rules change from year to year, she told AFP at an event organized by the New Georgia Project.

“We have to ask our politicians: Why are you doing this? They have to be held to account! Why do they keep changing everything?”

Like so many states held by the right, Georgia is using the accusations of Donald Trump – who assures, without proof, that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him – to put in place restrictive laws castigated by opponents like so many attacks on democracy.

Despite the efforts of the former Republican president’s team, no trace of significant electoral fraud has surfaced in this state.

This did not prevent the Republican majority from passing a very controversial law in 2021, which includes several measures that effectively limit access to the ballot.

The text notably prohibits activists from distributing water to people waiting to vote, limits the time allowed to request ballots to vote by mail and strengthens identity checks.

– Racial discrimination –

The number of ballot boxes set up in the street has been reduced and mobile polling stations are practically prohibited.

The very long queues and the lack of access to an official identity document – identity cards as we know them in France do not exist in the United States – are problems which affect more African Americans, resulting in accusations of discrimination.

Exaggeration, say defenders of the law, who accuse the Democrats of trying to arouse fears for political ends – and invoke the record turnout in the recent primaries to brush aside the accusations.

But for suffrage activists and Democrats, the strong numbers are due to the deployment of new tactics to encourage turnout.

“The credit goes to the efforts undertaken”, assures Nsé Ufot, managing director of New Georgia Project.

The action of these groups also helped President Joe Biden in November 2020 become the first Democratic candidate to win the state in nearly three decades.

The victory of two elected Democrats had also offered control of the Senate to the left. One of them, Raphael Warnock, is running again in November, and his defeat could tip the upper house.

Joe Biden’s margin of victory was only 11,779 votes out of nearly five million votes cast: the new rules could have important consequences in the next ballot.

– “Apple pie” –

These restrictive laws constitute “a kind of slow death” of democracy, judge Jada Richard, 23, an activist with the New Georgia Project.

“If they can get even 12,000 or 5,000 people not to vote,” that may be enough to rock an election, she says.

“I think calling it a death by small fire gives too passive a meaning. I would rather say it’s a shooting death,” said pastor and activist Jamal Bryant.

For the associations, a high turnout is the best way to ensure that the election result reflects the opinion of Georgians.

The New Georgia Project has set itself the goal of registering 55,000 new voters on the electoral lists by the end of the year, preferably “super-voters” who will participate in each ballot.

“Whether you are rich or poor, you have the same vote and the same voice”, assures Jamal Bryant. “Pardon the cliché, but it’s as American as apple pie and baseball.”