Democrats, voting rights advocates blast new Georgia election bill

Democrats and voting rights advocates are sounding the alarm over a new election bill in Georgia that would add new restrictions to voting.

2/20/2021 7:21:00 PM

Republicans in the Georgia state House have introduced a 48-page omnibus bill that, if enacted, would make sweeping changes to the state's election processes.

Democrats and voting rights advocates are sounding the alarm over a new election bill in Georgia that would add new restrictions to voting.

Amber McReynolds, an election administration expert and the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, told ABC News that Georgia's elections are more accessible than many other states, but that doesn't mean they're perfect."There's ways to improve on what they've been doing that simultaneously improve the process for the voters, reduce costs and create some efficiencies, and also enhance security -- and there's a way to do all of those things at once," she said."Sometimes the legislation doesn't look at things in a comprehensive way, and this is sort of an example of that."

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McReynolds, an unaffiliated voter, has met with Republicans in the General Assembly as they're crafting election legislation and testified Friday about HB 531.While there are portions of the bill that election administrators lauded, the sections related to early in-person and absentee-by-mail voting are getting significant pushback from advocates.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, FILEA poll worker hands out pens and clipboards to fill out registration cards as people stand in line to vote at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds on Oct. 30, 2020, in Lawrenceville, Ga.The legislation would bar counties from holding voting on the two Sundays that fall within the early three-week period and only allow it on one Saturday. Currently, counties are required to have locations open weekdays, plus one Saturday, but they can opt to add more days if they fall within the set period, which ends the Friday before an election.

Fleming said this would bring"uniformity" to early voting."Uniformity is not equity," Draper said."There are different needs in Fulton County ... than there are in small, rural counties with small numbers of voters, and originally, that's why there was flexibility in this law."

She noted"Souls to the Polls" events, held by Black churches in the large metro areas, have been an"effective get-out-the-vote mechanism," but eliminating Sunday early voting would also curtail these.During the 2020 cycle, the State Election Board passed an emergency rule allowing counties to implement drop boxes, but while this bill would be the first actively sanctioning drop boxes, it would also add limitations to their use going forward, requiring they be inside early voting locations and only accessible when those locations are open.

Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey testified Friday that if the drop boxes have to be at these locations, they should at least be outside, so they're easier to access. Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler concurred in her testimony.

McReynolds said that voters across the political spectrum like drop boxes, cautioning against restricting their accessibility."Many people prefer to hand their ballot directly to a drop box or an election judge because it gets there quicker," she said."There's ways to enhance security ... but just limiting access to the boxes does not actually improve security. It actually hurts it."

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Under this bill, voters would not be able to use drop boxes on Election Day, or the three days preceding it. Putting ballots in the mail during that time, though, is risky, as they must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. In Georgia, the largest percentage of rejected absentee ballots are the ones that arrive late.

Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILEAn election observer assists a voter as she drops off an absentee ballot into a drop box outside a polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in Atlanta, on Nov. 3, 2020.The bill would also add a new identification requirement for absentee voting and eliminate the signature match process.

Voters are currently required to show a photo ID when voting in person, but not by mail. HB 531 would require absentee voters to provide their driver's license or state identification number on their applications and the oath envelopes that contain the ballot. If a voter does not have this type of identification, however, they must include a photocopy of another form of accepted identification with the application.

Fleming said 97% of Georgia voters have a driver's license or state ID, though it's unclear where that figure is from.But even if it is just 3% of voters lacking this, additional hurdles facing even a small amount of voters matter"if we're truly wanting everyone to be able to vote," said Poy Winichakul, a staff attorney testifying on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund.

"You're proposing these requirements when it's not necessary," Winichakul added, speaking directly to the chairman."There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud."But Ryan Germany, the general counsel in Raffensperger's office, said if the state doesn't switch from a subjective to an objective way of verifying absentee ballots, election officials could become targets, as some were after November.

"They want to just be neutral arbiters," he said.The bottom line, according to McReynolds, is that election legislation must hit on multiple priorities, including fairness, accessibility, security, transparency and equitability."All those values matter equally," she said."It seems like we need to work on balance with all those values to get it right for this particular legislation and any subsequent bills."

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Georgia Republicans are not about to let democracy get in the way of their racist agenda. How about a Literacy Test before Atlanta Voters can register Why can’t it be challenged in courts? Voter suppression! Never trust republicans to care about freedom or democracy. They’d be right at home in a dictatorship with oligarchs just like Russia.

Apparently 40% of People in Georgia are idiots, and because of that fact, they feel the need to make it harder for people of color to vote. No one stole your election, republicans, you just lost. Restrictions to voting is just another way of slowly taking the vote away from American citizens. They don't get it. The more they do this crap the more Georgians are determined to vote! you don't want to mess with an angry voter!

This proves the gop are sore losers ABC news and their dem followers are really dump,how is this voter suppression,if a citizen can vote what stops other citizens from voting through the same measures .oh no they can’t cheat anymore. Schumer needs to let it just sit on his desk. Am I the only one that finds it hysterical it was the Trimpers that stormed the Capital? They lost one election after rigging things their way for decades. Now they are making it more obvious with no shame. At this point change the elephant to a burning cross.

Repubs can't win without cheating and fixing elections. Smh... The Georgian Demoncrats who participated in election fraud of the Senate race will be arrested. You better start your plan of escape now Liars and cheats do not have an easy time in jail. If you lose an election all you need to do is change the rules so you win next time. That’s the GOP way. Democracy! Just like i pictured it!

“ because we can’t win if folks vote” fight the fascistGOP the fascits want to STEAL YOUR VOTE!! Didn’t they learn anything the last time they tried this and were taken to court and lost? Seriously. The 2021 version of voter suppression! 🖕🏾 Shameful. No!!! Republicans know they can’t get elected if the majority of people of vote. All they have left is restricted voting. They have no idea of what servant leadership is.

Fantastic You lost. Democracy is alive, and trumpet, Cruz, hawley, Taylor green, Paul, Jordan, graham need to go. Who’d I miss? Regrettable attempt by the Georgia GOP to restrict voting rights of their citizens. Gov DeSantis and Florida GOP is getting set to try the very same thing. He said so publicly in a press conference. They feel a crazy need to stay in power any way they can.

In my opinion and my opinion does not reflect the opinions of anyone else in this tweet they are attempting to let’s use the word leverage the next election Supression, through redneck supremacy. SEALING GOP WINS White republicans on the run are a scary group. Only white male land owners count? Let’s change the rules because we lost

GA GQP gave Dems one hour to review this 48 page Bill. If that isn't also in their sneaky playbook to limit the time for review. Dems need to bring back the Voters Rights Act and the new Act that has been written. Don't delay, do it NOW!! AmericanRescuePlan , Filibuster , VotingRightsAct ASAP. Shameful. We need a new voting rights act.

Why do Republicans always have to suppress votes? Republicans introduce bill to suppress voting. fixeditforyou An unending attempt to what’s been done for centuries: preventing Blacks & a few others from voting. Since the high court struck the block on Blacks to vote, GA & many other “red” states hav been trying to thwart that decision. They will continue to fail. Blacks will vote!

Republicans you will not win,your days of hate and racism is over The AJC editorial page summed it up nicely. It is a solution in search of a problem. Like rats in water! Their old racist strategies will not survive. Change is eminent, deal with reality! Florida’s governor is doing the same. His plan is to make it much harder to vote by mail.

Wow! Next they will say only Republicans can vote. Do republicans not understand they can do mail in voting as well? It’s not just for the Dems. I see a supreme court on the horizon. Voter suppression not going to work. 'I'm Shocked!!' said nobody... White extremist's ought to know that every black has equal right as every white. It doesn't matter how you came to find yourself in US, black or white citizens enjoy the equal and same rights as enshrined in your constitution.

staceyabrams is gonna be all over this for sure! Thank god for people like her! Vote against suppression Gotta keep those brown people from voting! GOP garbage. Trying to win by cheating has become the GOP way. The more they try to stop voters from exercising their right to vote, the more determined voters become. GOP could just change their crappy policies instead, but that would serve the people, oh no!

I think you mean to say “voter suppression” Republicans: change laws all you want. It’s not going to make more people vote for you. No more suitcases being pulled out at 2:00 AM? Especially the rule that reads every 2 Democrat votes is worth 100 Republican votes Let’s face it the Republican Party has been destroyed by trump!!!! People who think he’s some great business man but if you really look at his history everything he touches turns to shit!!! 😂😂😂and this is who some Republicans want Wake up!!!

Let me guess: They want to exacerbate voter disenfranchisement along racial and socioeconomic lines and have produced long form legalese to justify it. Sub-human behavior on the part repugnantkins