Georgia Republicans have passed sweeping changes to voting laws that have liberal activists crying foul.
SB 202 requires identification requirements for mail-in ballots. It also narrows the window of time for requesting an absentee ballot. In a move that should make Democrat opponents happy, the bill also expands weekend voting, allowing for two extra days of Sunday voting as any county sees fit.
As Politico reports, dropboxes for ballots will be much more limited in both location and time to access:
It also restricts the use of drop boxes in the state, mandating that each county have at least one drop box but then limiting any additional drop box totaling the “lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county.” The bill also requires that the drop boxes be located either at the office of the board of registrars or ballot clerk or inside early voting locations — and that they are closed when early voting isn’t being conducted.
Perhaps the biggest change – and the one Georgia Democrats are decrying the most – is the limiting of power by election boards, removing the secretary of state as the chair and instead making it an elected position. This could have massive repercussions for future elections, making it harder for individual corruption and individual preferences to sully contentious elections in the state.
The bill also targets the power of the secretary of state and local elections boards. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, was targeted by Trump and many Republicans in the state because he did not support Trump’s election fraud claims.
The bill removes the secretary of state as the chair of the state election board, making the position instead elected by the state General Assembly. This, effectively, turns the five-person board over to the state legislature, with the chairperson elected by both chambers and one member each appointed by each chamber. The bill also gives the state election board the ability to suspend county election officials, who are replaced by an individual picked by the board.
Some other things SB 202 does is prevent “line warming” – the practice of providing refreshments for people in long lines, which can also be viewed as a type of bribery or influencing – and shortening the time for run-off races.
The bill also shortens the runoff period in the state, after Republicans suffered a pair of high-profile losses earlier this year. Then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both finished ahead of their Democratic challengers in November, but now-Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won the runoffs in January.
The bill shortens the runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks. That would shorten the early voting period in the state and give voters less time to mail their ballots back. It would also end all-party primaries for special elections.
Naturally the bill’s passage has received all kinds of hysterical criticism for Democrats. Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams implied racism:
What’s likely to come for SB 202: quick passage by GA Senate & a speedy signature by Kemp. Why? To avoid actual analysis + public awareness of how SB 202 hurts voters of color, increases taxes on struggling families & steals power from local governments. Today’s GA GOP. #gapol https://t.co/qCvgrdKubI
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) March 25, 2021
This is voter suppression.
Georgia is making it harder to vote because some rather hold onto power without convincing voters.
— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) March 25, 2021
SB 202 is the most flagrantly racist, partisan power grab in modern Georgia history. The GOP is burning democracy down to silence Georgians of color. We will fight tooth and nail in court to put this legislation in the ash heap of history along with the rest of Jim Crow. #gapol
— Nikema Williams (@DPGChair) March 25, 2021
And as this story went to publication, Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law.
BREAKING: Brian Kemp has signed the voter suppression bill. Jim Crow voter suppression has been resurrected in Georgia.
We will fight this. #gapol
— Georgia Democrats (@GeorgiaDemocrat) March 25, 2021