GOP state senators in Georgia have introduced a slate of bills restricting voter access in the state, including “no excuse” absentee voting and automatic voter registration.
If passed, the restrictions could destroy years of work by Democrats in the state and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams and could have a significant impact on the 2022 midterm elections.
One of the bills would require voters who request an absentee ballot to be 75 or older, absent from their precinct, observing a religious holiday, have a physical disability, or required to care for someone with a physical disability in order to receive one.
Another bill would ban drop boxes and would require voters to provide identification when requesting an absentee ballot. A third bill would limit who can distribute absentee ballot applications to state election officials and campaigns, blocking outside organizations and nonprofits, such as Abrams’ Fair Fight organization. Other measures would stop new residents from voting in runoffs and expand poll watcher access.
Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, who co-sponsored the bills, said the bills will re-establish “an election system which has lost credibility with a majority of Georgians.”
“I want every legal vote counted, and I want better access for all voters. Accusing our reform efforts of suppression is a political tactic, pure and simple. Even those of us who never claimed that the election was stolen recognize that the electorate has lost confidence in the legitimacy of the system. We must work to restore that,” he said in a statement to CNN.
Republicans, many of whom are still disputing losses by former President Donald Trump and former state Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are claiming the measures protect against voter fraud, but have no evidence to support their claims.
After the presidential election, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent out a letter debunking numerous election claims by Trump, and former head of cybersecurity Chris Krebs called the election “the most secure election in U.S. history.”
The bills were quickly denounced by Democrats lawmakers in the state.
Democratic state Sen. Nikki Merritt tweeted “GA Republicans are so weak the only way they can win is by blocking your access to voting.”
Georgia Democratic Rep. Josh McLaurin also tweeted his frustration at the Georgia GOP.
How pathetic is it to respond to election losses by changing election rules rather than changing course on policy and tone?
— Josh McLaurin (@JoshforGeorgia) February 2, 2021