On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a Republican-sponsored bill overhauling the state’s election laws and adding a number of new voting restrictions. The 96-page bill, which was passed 34-20 in the Republican-controlled Georgia senate, allows for an unlimited number of challenges to voter registration and eligibility—a practice which will likely be used to target voters of color. On top of that, it prohibits people from passing out food and water to voters waiting in line at polling locations. Although Georgia Republicans claim that the legislation is part of an effort to bolster voter confidence in the election process and improve election security after all of the (false) allegations of voter fraud made during the 2020 election, it’s pretty transparent that this is just the latest GOP effort to suppress voting rights.
The Georgia legislation restricts the use of the previously 24/7 absentee ballot drop boxes so that they can only be used during early voting hours and inside early voting locations. It also adds new barriers to absentee voting, requiring voters to request their ballots a full 11 days before the election, rather than the Friday before Election Fay as was previously allowed, and mandating that voters provide either their Georgia driver’s license number or state ID in order to both apply for and return their absentee ballot. Additionally, the bill prevents local governments from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. “It’s like the Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression,” said Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan.
So not only does this legislation add a number of limitations to absentee voting, but it also then prevents the people who are voting in person—many of whom were forced to wait in line for hours to cast their ballots in the 2020 election—from getting fresh food and water from volunteers. Now remind me what about that makes voting “more accessible” to Georgia residents again? The bill also increases the state legislature’s control over election administration, removing the Georgia secretary of state as chair of the State Election Board and giving state officials the right to replace local election officials.
What a wiiiiild coincidence that these changes to absentee voting were passed less than six months after a record 1.3 million absentee ballots were cast in Georgia during the 2020 election.... which also happened to be the first presidential election since 1993 where Georgia went blue. It’s almost as if—*dramatic gasp*—Georgia Republicans don’t really about making it easier for their constituents to vote!
“The GOP just won’t stop when it comes to making it harder for Georgians to vote,” said Scott Hogan, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, in a statement released after the vote on Thursday. “Senate Bill 202 contains the worst of their party’s racist voter suppression tactics. This bill is not about election integrity – it’s simply another GOP push to revive Jim Crow and turn our elections into a disaster in order to suppress votes.”