A committee in the Georgia State House of Representatives passed an elections bill on Wednesday (February 24). The House Election Integrity Committee made changes to the bill before passing it, however, restoring the Sunday early voting option which many pointed would unduly impact Black voters that participate in the “Souls to the Polls” initiative after church.
“We need in the Legislature to pass reasonable measures that begin to build confidence back into the election system for both the left and the right,” committee chairman Barry Fleming said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We listened to what people were saying, and we made changes.”
The 66-page bill includes restrictions on ballot drop boxes and imposes an ID requirement for voters who want to vote absentee. Ballot drop boxes would only be permitted inside early voting locations, which hinders people who want to avoid crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee’s Republican lawmakers backed the bill’s approval, while Democrats opposed it.
Others say that House Bill 531 does more to create barriers to allowing voters to cast their ballots rather than making elections more secure.
The state certified November’s election results after multiple recounts. Unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud fueled by former president Donald Trump and other Republican leaders, may have inspired the bill and other measures being proposed around the country.
State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat, called the bill “a step in the wrong direction.”
“Early voting limitations affect a lot of working people and a lot of people of color,” he told the outlet.
The next step for the bill would be passage in the full state House of Representatives. From there, it would go to the state Senate for more deliberation.
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