State Watch

GOP-led Georgia House passes sweeping elections bill that would limit voting access

The Georgia House of Representatives on Monday passed Republican-backed legislation that seeks to place limitations on access to absentee and early voting in the state, among other restrictions.

As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the chamber passed House Bill 531 in a party-line 97-72 vote. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

If the bill is passed by the upper chamber and signed into law, voters would be required to submit a driver’s license number, state identification card number or photocopy of an approved form of identification in order to vote absentee in the state. Currently, absentee ballots are tallied using signature verification, according to The Associated Press.

The bill would also include restrictions for ballot drop box locations, reduce the time period for voters to be able to request absentee ballots and prohibit outside election funding from nonprofits, the Journal-Constitution reported.

The bill has been amended to limit voting on Sundays to just one Sunday for counties, according to local media. It initially prohibited counties from holding advance voting on Sundays, which Black churches in the state have used to increase voter participation among congregants with “Souls to the Polls” efforts, prompting backlash from religious leaders and critics that the move is an attempt to suppress Black voters.

House Bill 531 is just one of a series of elections bills that Republican legislators have filed in Georgia that would place limitations on early and absentee voting after the state saw record voter turnout in the Senate runoff races earlier this year and the presidential election in November.

Republicans have claimed the bills are aimed at increasing election security and boosting confidence in election integrity after former President Trump repeatedly spread false claims of widespread voter fraud in the state in recent months.

However, Democrats and voting rights advocates have said the bills would make it unnecessarily difficult for Georgians to vote and that the measures are a response to GOP losses in the presidential election and January runoffs.

In a statement on Monday, Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D), called the bill “a dangerous attempt to roll back voting rights” and said the legislation would “add extra hurdles for voters of color and marginalized communities — along with Republican voters who have relied on voting by mail to win states like Florida and Ohio.”

Georgia is only one of many states that have seen GOP-backed efforts at voting reform since Election Day 2020, with the measures often seeking to limit early or absentee voting.

According to data from the Brennan Center, more than 250 bills with provisions that would restrict voting access have been prefiled, introduced or carried over by state lawmakers in 43 states as of mid-February.

Tags Absentee ballot Donald Trump Early voting Electoral fraud Georgia Postal voting Voter suppression Voter turnout
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