Georgia lawmakers in the state’s Senate are voting on Monday (March 8), potentially passing a major repeal of options for voters in the state. With SB 241, no-excuse absentee voting would be repealed. This means, Georgia voters would have to be over the age of 65, observing a religious holiday, away from their voting precinct, be a overseas or military voter, providing constant care for someone with a physical disability, or working a job that protects the “health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open,” in order to qualify to vote absentee. The bill would undo a GOP-supported law from 2005 that allows no-excuse absentee voting.
This bill, along with hundreds making their way through state legislative bodies around the country are a Republican-backed response to the massive turnout during the November, citing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and other reasons as justification. A record number of voters participated in the general election, many using absentee voting to avoid large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report by CNN, it’s expected that the Georgia Senate, which has a Republican majority, will pass the bill. The session will reportedly also include deliberation on 11 other pieces of voting and election-related legislation.
“All we’re trying to do here is make sure we can afford it, the offices can manage it and the voters are certain their votes actually counted,” Georgia GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan said. Dugan, who is a main sponsor of the bill claims that limiting absentee voting reduces the costs associated with processing ballots and takes pressure off local election precinct workers.
The state saw several recounts in November, sparked in part by former President Donald Trump’s perpetuation of claims of election fraud. Georgia Senate President Butch Miller told the outlet that this latest bill is seeking to restore confidence in the state’s election system.
“Even those of us who never claimed that the election was stolen recognize that the electorate has lost confidence in the legitimacy of the system. We must work to restore that,” Miller wrote in an email to the outlet.
Voting rights advocates like Stacey Abrams say the bill impacts Black voters and voters of color the most, likening the proposed legislation to modern-era Jim Crow laws.
The US House of Representatives passed HR 1, also known as the “For the People Act,” last week that takes aim at the state-level elections bills. It would ban states from imposing restrictions on by-mail voting and call on them to use independent agencies to draw congressional district lines.
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