COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Georgia lawmakers have passed an election bill that would limit access to statewide voting and give state officials more power over local elections.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday signed off on the bill imposing tougher restrictions on Georgia’s election process.
“The goal of the design is to make voting more difficult,” said Jacob Holt, a professor of political science at Columbus State University. The goal is to reduce voting. I would say that all of these things might cause, though they would be small, to dissuade some people from voting.”
Georgia is the latest state to make changes to its voting laws.
“There are hundreds of bills across the country,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock, III. “Georgia is the first country to do that. So, what happens is that Georgia law may then become the model. Other countries that are thinking about this will say, OK, let’s instead of reinventing the wheel, we’re going with what Georgia did. Is that something? We can apply it to our state, tweak it a little bit here and there.”
The new bill requires copies of ID cards to be submitted along with absentee ballots. It limits the number of ballot boxes that counties can cast, allows the state legislature to seize power from local election officials, and also makes it illegal to give things like water or food to people standing in line to vote.
“It requires every county to have two Saturdays so you can vote early, and you can have up to two Sundays to vote early,” Bullock explained.
It also expands early voting for primary and general elections. The old law stipulated only one Saturday for early voting. With the period between elections and runoffs shortened from nine weeks to four weeks, counties will be able to begin early voting as quickly as possible. The bill only requires that it be submitted Monday through Friday in the week before the election.
Bullock believes the bill will increase voter turnout for Republicans and Democrats.
“So I think both parties, on the point of points in this, say come on the team. You have to make sure you go out and vote,” Bullock said.
According to Bullock, Republicans and Democrats have their say on what Senate Bill 202 really means.
Bullock adds that he believes the bill is an attempt to restore the confidence of Republican voters, while Democrats will view the bill as an act of voter suppression.
President Joe Biden called the voting changes “Jim Crow in the twenty-first century,” to which Kemp responded as expanding voter access and ensuring election integrity.
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