Stop the Bills That Will Destroy Elections in Georgia & Join Fair Fight Voting Right’s Caucus Hearings.
Some state legislators are pushing through bills to cut voting hours, make it harder to vote absentee, and defund county elections offices. They know these bills will make it harder for everyone to vote – especially the poor and people of color. Let county elections administrators, county commissioners, and ordinary voters from across the state know they will be harmed by these bills. Those in small counties in particular need to be in touch with your county commission and county board of elections. This WILL cost you, the taxpayer, at in the very near future. 2021 is election year for municipals, 2022 are state-wide elections that will include a senate race. There are usually a few special elections sprinkled in the mix.
Just on two items alone, counties will suffer financially. Two examples: counties will be excluded from the ability to take grant money to build election infrastructure; budgets will take a hit on personnel to oversee and administer the petty rules being offered. This is a bad deal for rural and small town Georgia in particular. Many counties are deeply suffering during the pandemic with tax revenues down and the extra burden of making up for the lack of a safety net in Georgia (Medicaid expansion anyone? Better unemployment administration?).
These bills are moving very fast, and are being amended, sometimes radically. Check the latest version of the bill, who sponsored it, and its likelihood of passing at the AJC’s Legislative Navigator. Address calls and letters to bill sponsors and committee members, Speaker Ralston, and Lt. Gov. Duncan.
HB 531 – This omnibus bill has had recent additions, but at this time revised language is unavailable. It initially included 22 provisions including cutbacks to Sunday voting hours, requirements to send extensive personal ID information with absentee ballots, and more. This bill is being rushed through the Special Committee on Elections Integrity, and needs to be delayed until it receives full legal and fiscal analyses. Bill sponsor: Barry Fleming
Here’s a brief description of the most egregious bills:
HB 270 – Moves the deadline to request an absentee ballot to 10 days before election day and requires county election officials to get absentee ballots in the mail within three business days after receipt. It prohibits counties from issuing ballots closer to election day. No provisions for voters who need absentee ballots because they get sick, need to travel, or need to quarantine shortly before election day. Bill sponsor: Barry Fleming
SB 67 – Requires Georgia voters to provide a copy of a voter’s ID, a driver’s license number, or a state ID number when requesting an absentee ballot. Under-resourced voters will not be able to photocopy their IDs. Including extensive private information in ballot envelopes creates ID theft risks. Bill sponsor: Larry Walker III
SB 89 – Creates a chief elections assistance officer to intervene in “low performing” county election offices, usurping the bipartisan boards of elections in most counties. Expands power of Secretary of State, a partisan official. Bill sponsor: Butch Miller
HB 461 – Requires that returned absentee ballots begin to be opened and scanned in advance of Election Day. The bill claims the scanned data shall not be tabulated until 7am Election Day, and that elections workers shouldn’t share results, but it is not realistic to expect that information about election results would not be leaked before the close of polls on Election Day. HB461 does not address any known security risks in GA elections. Takes control of elections away from counties. Bill sponsor: Barry Fleming
There are several other other bad bills that are not getting much attention and may not pass, include:
SB 68, SB 69, SB 70, SB 71, SB 72, SB 73, SB 29 – Senate bills can be found here
House bills can be found here (or tracked on the AJC Navigator as linked above).
*Thanks to the People’s Agenda for the committee list.
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