Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) is withholding support for numerous voting measures filed by Republican state lawmakers in recent weeks as his office reviews the legislation.

“Once we see something that prioritizes the security and accessibility of elections, we’ll throw in support,” Raffensperger tweeted on Wednesday. He added that many of the bills, which would directly impact state elections, are “reactionary to a three month disinformation campaign” that he said could have been prevented.

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Over the past month, Republicans in the state legislature have filed, and advanced in some cases, election-related bills that critics say will make it tougher to vote in the Peach State.

Republicans in Georgia have said the voting measures are designed to boost confidence in election security, though Democrats and voting rights advocates have said they're more in response to GOP losses both in the presidential election and the Senate runoffs in January.

A number of the Republican measures would place restrictions on absentee voting after the state saw record high numbers of absentee ballots in the November general election.

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One bill, passed earlier this week by the GOP-controlled state Senate, would require voters to submit a driver’s license number, state identification card number or a photocopy of an approved form of identification in order to vote absentee. The method currently tallies absentee ballots using signature verifications.

A measure advanced last week by a state Senate subcommittee in a party-line vote would require voters to provide a reason for voting absentee. Georgians have previously been able to vote absentee without needing to provide a reason since the practice was approved nearly two decades ago by a GOP-led legislature, according to The Associated Press.

While Raffensperger hasn’t voiced support for the new absentee measure, in December he pushed for the end of no-excuse absentee voting, saying it opens "the door to potential illegal voting," the AP reported. His office also said in a press release then that the practice overwhelmed county elections officials who run absentee ballot voting.

Shortly after President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE won the traditionally red state in November, Raffensperger came under criticism from then-President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE, who repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election in multiple states.

Trump later pressured Raffensperger on a call to “find” the “11,780 votes” needed to reverse his defeat in the state.

Other proposals that have been introduced by Georgia Republicans in the past few weeks include measures that would place limitations on early voting, seek to do away with automatic voter registration and eliminate the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots.

—Updated Thursday at 3:02 p.m.