Voters may have to submit copies of ID
by Robin Kemp
Several pieces of legislation that critics say would make it harder for Georgians to vote are making their way through the Gold Dome this session.
Rep. Rhonda Burnough (D-77, Riverdale), who sits on the House Special Committee on Election Integrity, said she was unhappy with Republican members who’d promised to hear opposing views, yet came with bills ready to vote out of the committee.
Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration officials expressed concern about the pending legislation during their February 9 meeting. Member Pat Pullar suggested that voters make a plan now for getting their ID copies and applying for absentee ballots.
State Rep. Kim Schofield took to Facebook, urging voters to call Gov. Brian Kemp’s office:
Last week, we saw House Bill 270 sail out of the new Elections Integrity Committee. HB270 would prevent election boards…
Some voting-related bills in progress as of press time include:
- SB 67: would require voters to submit a photo ID or photocopy of an ID with absentee ballot applications and to show photo ID at advance voting locations. It also would prohibit the Secretary of State from issuing absentee ballots and gives the Secretary of State permission to set up a web portal where voters would submit their driver’s license or ID in order to apply for an absentee ballot from their county registrar’s office. The Secretary of State’s office then would have to forward the request to the county registrar. Sponsored by Senators Walker III of the 20th, Miller of the 49th, Mullis of the 53rd, Kennedy of the 18th, Gooch of the 51st and others.
- SB 68: would ban drop boxes for absentee ballots, instead requiring voters to mail or hand-deliver their absentee ballots “personally to a registrar or absentee ballot clerk or other appropriate staff member of the office of the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk.” Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Gooch of the 51st, Walker III of the 20th, Albers of the 56th and others.
- SB 70: would prevent anyone who voted for a U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative in another state during a primary election to vote in Georgia during the runoff. Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Gooch of the 51st, Walker III of the 20th, Albers of the 56th and others.
- SB 71: would change the definition of “absentee elector” to people who are required to be absent from their precinct “during the time of the primary, election, or runoff in which he or she desires to vote”; performs “any of the official acts or duties set forth” in connection with the election; has a physical disability or is “required to give constant care to someone who is physically disabled”; can’t be present due to a religious holiday; “Is required to remain on duty in his or her place of employment for the protection of the health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open when such place of employment is within the precinct in which the elector resides”; or is 75 or older. Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Hickman of the 4th, McNeill of the 3rd, Beach of the 21st and others.
- SB 72: Would require county registrars to get identifying information of people who died in the county the previous month “from the coroner, judge of the probate court, and funeral homes in the county,” compare that information to the registered voter list, remove those names, and send a written notice to the address on record. Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Gooch of the 51st, Albers of the 56th, Hickman of the 4th and others.
- SB 73: Would ban anyone except the Secretary of State, an election superintendent, a board of registrars, a candidate, or a candidate’s campaign committee from distributing absentee ballot “forms or applications.” It also would require the name of the elections official, candidate, or candidate’s campaign committee sending out the form or application to be printed “in prominent type.” (The bill does not define what “prominent type” means.) Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Gooch of the 51st, Walker III of the 20th, Albers of the 56th and others.
- SB 74: Would allow poll watchers from political parties and independent observers to have access to the entire ballot tabulation area, rather than designated observation areas, with this caveat: “The election superintendent may restrict the movement and activities of poll watchers in the tabulating center in order to provide for the security of the ballots and returns and to prevent interference by poll watchers in the tabulating process, but such restrictions should be as minimal as possible.” Sponsored by Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Miller of the 49th, Gooch of the 51st, Walker III of the 20th, Albers of the 56th and others.
- HB 59: This bipartisan bill would create an “instant runoff” for overseas and military absentee voters by allowing them to mark first and second choices in the primary election. Sponsored by Representatives Cantrell of the 22nd, Clark of the 147th, Rich of the 97th, Nguyen of the 89th, Wilson of the 80th, and others.
The Georgia Republican Party released a report listing recommended changes in election law that closely track legislation already introduced by Georgia Senate Republicans. It also amplifies discredited claims of election fraud by former President Donald Trump. Notably, it singles out Dominion voting machines, says existing contracts should and suggests Scantron hand-marked ballots and Unisyn Voting Solutions and ES&S machines as possible replacements. Software should be “open source, auditable, transparent and licensed to the State of Georgia.” The GA GAOP report does not address security issues with open-source software, nor does it explain why it recommends those specific vendors.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a press release, ““Georgia Republicans’ blatantly anti-democratic agenda only further solidifies their legacy of clinging to voter suppression as political opportunism, instead of competing in fair elections. The fact that their so-called ‘Election Confidence Task Force’ includes a member who publicly advocated for changing election laws so that Republicans ‘at least have a shot at winning,’ and an attorney who represented the Trump campaign’s failed court challenge, shows that this is nothing more than a last-gasp attempt by an ever-more-extreme organization that is terrified of the power of Georgia voters. “
The GOP’s Election Confidence Task Force is not the same group as the Georgia House Special Committee on Election Integrity.