Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday joined other Republicans in calling to end the state's current practice of allowing all voters to submit absentee ballots without giving a reason why they cannot vote in person.
He said that the system, referred to as "no-excuse" absentee voting, "opens the door to potential illegal voting, especially in light of the federal rules that deny us the ability to keep voter lists, registration files, clean."
Raffensperger's remarks were made at a hearing before the state Houses's Governmental Affairs Committee and comes as his office continues to dismiss claims that there was any widespread fraud or irregularities in the November election.
"The no-excuse system voted into law in 2005—long before most of you, if not all of you, long before I was in the General Assembly—it makes no sense when we have three weeks of in-person early voting available," Raffensperger said, adding later that allowing everyone to vote by mail brings logistical challenges.
"The way Georgia’s election system is set up under law, county elections officials are essentially required to run three elections simultaneously, one each for a population that wants to vote a different way," Raffensperger said in the statement. "Until COVID-19, absentee ballot voters were mostly those who needed to cast absentee ballots. For the sake of our resource stretched and overwhelmed elections officials, we need to reform our absentee ballot system."
The 2005 Georgia law that allows for no-excuse absentee voting had been used by only between 5 to 7 percent of voters for years. But the number grew significantly because of the CCP virus pandemic and has strained the state's resources, he noted.
Republicans in Georgia's state Senate previously called for an end to no-excuse absentee voting.
Raffensperger at the hearing called to require voter ID for absentee ballots, as opposed to continuing with the current system of signature-matching, which is more subjective and potentially more prone to fraud.
At the same hearing, Raffensperger dismissed allegations of voter fraud in the state in the November election, saying that the "vast majority of claims ... are simply unfounded."
An election in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are facing Democrat challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, in a pair of runoff races.
More than 1.3 million absentee ballots have been requested in the state for these races, and about 1.2 million people have voted early in person.
Georgia has seen two recounts and its officials have twice affirmed Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s victory. However, the two recounts were without signature verifications, which were one of the main points of contention from the Trump campaign.