Georgia's new election law sparks a debate over voter suppression vs. election security.
What To Know.
Why It Matters.
Why It Matters:
- New: Georgia's new election law is the first major state-level election law to pass after the heavily contested 2020 election. Hundreds of election bills are working through state houses nationwide.
- Notable: Georgia's election was particular close for both President & the Senate, with dems winning all three elections (the first presidential election by a democrat in GA in 3 decades).
"We quickly began working with the House and Senate on further reforms to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The bill I signed into law does just that."
GA Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on the election law created after the November 2020 election by republicans and passed along party lines (republicans have the majority). The law includes many different provisions – we highlighted several.
- Voters may request a ballot 78-11 days before an election. Previously, they could start requesting ballots 180 days before, and (in most counties) up until the Friday before Election Day.
- Voters must verify their identity via their SSN or a # from a state-issued ID. Before, they could just sign their name.
- The new law requires drop boxes for absentee voters to use, but limits the number, location & hours of operation.
- Counties are now required to offer in-person early voting for general elections on two Saturdays, with Sundays being optional. Previously, only one Saturday was required.
- Early voting is prohibited before 7 a.m., and after 7 p.m. Previously, counties could set their own hours.
- For runoff elections, early voting will take place for about a week. Previously, it took place for 3 weeks.
- Voters who vote in-person, but outside their designated precinct will only have their vote counted if they vote after 5pm.
- The legislature has more influence over the State Election Board, which has more power over county election officials and may intervene as they fit.
- It's now a crime to hand out water/food within 150 ft of a polling station and within 25 ft of a person in line to vote.
“I told him exactly how I felt: that these bills were not only voter suppression, but they were in fact racist, and they are an attempt to turn back time to Jim Crow."
Bishop Reginald Jackson leader of the African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia recalling his conversation with Georgia's Lt. Gov. He argues the laws will deter voters, especially black voters in urban neighborhoods, and harken back to past laws put in place to purposefully prevent black voters.
"There’s a real — and bipartisan — misunderstanding about whether making it easier or harder to vote, especially by mail, has a significant effect on turnout or electoral outcomes. The evidence suggests it does not."
Correspondent Nate Cohn, New York Times, says research shows election laws don't impact voters as much as headlines & political fights suggest. Inspired voters vote; uninspired voters do not.
Remember – States remain in charge of state/federal elections but Georgia's law already faces a number of legal challenges by critics. Separately, the federal gov't is also weighing establishing federal election standards. The "For the People Act" passed the Democrat-controlled House in March.
READ Georgia's New Election Law HERE
Good primer on the topic from a Georgia news source HERE
by Jenna Lee,