The Republican-controlled General Assembly and governor moved faster than usual yesterday by passing and then signing into law a 95-page bill stitched together from numerous bills ranging from reforming the mail-in absentee ballot process to instituting tighter state oversight of elections. S.B. 202, among other things, requires a photo ID to request an absentee ballot, bans people from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places, prevents fraud by requiring ballots to be printed on security paper and bans local boards of elections from receiving outside money to “get-out-the-vote.”
There was initially controversy over trimming Sunday voting that Democrats favor. So, in the end, the law requires two Saturdays of early voting and gives counties the option to hold poll hours on two Sundays.
The legislation passed the state House of Representatives by a 100-75 vote along party lines, was adopted by the Senate on a party–line ballot and Gov. Brian Kemp signed it in his Capitol office.
Bill sponsor Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, spoke for Republicans by saying, “Our goal is to ensure election integrity and to restore or confirm confidence in the election process.”
Specifically, the law requires registered Georgia voters to provide the number on their driver’s license or state ID card to request and cast absentee ballots. If they don’t have those ID forms, voters instead must send in a copy of their passport, employee ID card, passport, utility bill or bank statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, who handled revisions to Rep. Barry Fleming’s elections changes in the Senate, attacked Democrats for characterizing S.B 202 as an instrument of “voter suppression,” which U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., called it. “This bill is full of anti-democratic ideas that call back to the Jim Crow era. This is a blatant attempt to silence voters of color and rewrite the rules to favor Republicans,” McBath said.
State troopers also arrested and led away state Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, as she was banging on the governor’s office door and trying to interrupt his announcement that he had signed S.B. 202 into law.