State Watch

Georgia Senate votes to repeal no-excuse absentee voting

The Georgia state Senate voted along party lines on Monday to repeal no-excuse absentee voting after the state sent two Democrats to the Senate and voted for a Democratic presidential nominee for the first time in decades.

The state Senate voted 29-20 to approve the legislation that would permit absentee voting only for those who are at least 65 years old, those who have a physical disability or those who are out of town, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Absentee voters in the Peach State would also have to provide voter identification such as a driver’s license number or state ID number to vote remotely.

The bill now heads to Georgia’s House of Representatives for a vote. 

Four Republican senators and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) did not participate in the vote. Duncan also didn’t preside over the bill’s debate, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he refused to oversee the passage of a bill he opposed.

Opponents of the bill argue that ending no-excuse absentee voting would effectively restrict voting in the key battleground state, which in 2020 voted for its first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.  

“America is at a turning point right now. Our democracy is in peril and our society divided along increasingly partisan lines,” state Sen. Elena Parent (D) said, according to the Journal-Constitution. “It will not work. Voters see through transparent attempts to cling to power through suppressive and anti-democratic means.”

But Republicans assert that action is needed to prevent voter fraud.

More than 1.3 million people voted absentee in the 2020 presidential election due to the coronavirus pandemic, and overall turnout was a record 5 million voters. Previous elections saw at most 220,000 absentee voters. State recounts and audits found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R) said the bill was proposed to lessen the workload of elections officials, noting that if the legislation passes, about 2.8 million of Georgia’s registered voters will still qualify to vote absentee.

“This is not preventing anyone from voting,” Dugan said, according to the Atlanta newspaper. “All this is doing is laying the groundwork to release some of the stresses we’ll see in the future as we continue to grow.”

The legislation comes after former President Trump attributed his loss to widespread fraud, despite Georgia elections officials dismissing those concerns. Trump had requested that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) “find” more than 11,000 ballots to allow him to overtake President Biden in the election.

The bill would need to pass before March 31, the end of the year’s legislative session, in order to be considered by Gov. Brian Kemp (R).

Tags 2020 election 2020 presidential election absentee voting Brian Kemp Donald Trump Georgia Joe Biden mail-in voting voter identification

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