A group of Republican state senators introduced a series of bills on Feb. 1 that would amend the Peach State’s election laws to end statewide vote-by-mail, the use of ballot drop boxes, and automatic voter registration.
The package of eight bills also includes a measure that would require voters to provide a copy of their identification or driver’s license when applying for an absentee ballot.
The bills represent a major overhaul of the way Georgia runs its elections after Republicans lost the presidential election and two special elections for the U.S. Senate. Then-President Donald Trump had challenged the validity of the outcome of the presidential election in the state. Two recounts failed to turn up any significant irregularities and several court challenges failed to deliver results.
“We’ve got to restore confidence in the ballot box. When people lose confidence in the ballot box they ultimately lose confidence in their government,” Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) said of the bills, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Our goal is to be sure every vote is accounted for, accurate and legal.”
One of the bills prohibits the use of ballot drop boxes as a mode of collection and delivery of absentee ballots. Another bill would require voters to submit a copy of their driver’s license; Voters who forget to include a photocopy will be notified and given a chance to correct the problem. And a separate bill would prohibit new Georgia residents who voted in another state during the general election from voting in runoff elections.
The proposed bills would also expand poll watcher access, ban non-profits from mailing absentee ballots to voters, and mandate regular updates to election officials about voters who died.
Democrats used a familiar line of attack against the measures, lumping in each of the proposed changes in the “voter suppression” category.
“It’s voter suppression. If you restrict access, then people get discouraged and they don’t vote. They don’t come back,” Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) told the Journal. “We have to make the argument that it’s a good process. People were able to vote, and they voted in record numbers.”
More than 1.3 million people in Georgia cast absentee ballots ahead of the November 2020 election.