The Georgia state Senate on Feb. 23 approved a package of measures that would enable several changes to state election laws in response to the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Among them, Senate Bill 67, which passed the Republican-controlled Senate in 35–18 vote, requires voters to submit a driver’s license number, state identification card number, or a photocopy of an approved form of identification in order to get an absentee ballot.
Sen. Larry Walker, a Republican who introduced the measure, said the change would affect the absentee-ballot counting process. Absentee ballots are currently tallied via signature-verification.
“You sign your name on that little digital screen, and your signature oftentimes really doesn’t look like your actual signature that you do on a daily basis,” Walker said, according to the Washington Examiner. “You could run into the situation where a family member mailed in the ballot request, which is totally legal, and so the signature would be a moot point.”
Another bill that was approved includes an overhaul to the state’s absentee-ballot-signature-matching-process. Former President Donald Trump and his surrogates, following concerns about the Nov. 3 election, panned the state’s signature-matching initiatives, saying that it’s impossible to carry out a proper audit without matching signatures on envelopes with ballots.
“It’s not about disenfranchising voters. It’s not about overly burdening the electorate. It’s about efficiency, integrity, allowing the Georgia public to have confidence in the vote,” Walker said Feb. 23, according to The Associated Press.
Fair Fight Action, a leftist group founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, panned the approval of the bill and claimed that it promotes a “discriminatory policy” as well as racism.
“In Georgia, with more than 7,692,567 registered voters, that means that 230,777 electors may not have the requisite identification and will therefore incur a burden in complying with the law,” it said. “Georgia has not moved past the racist motivations for which it was included in preclearance under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
Walker said the bill is designed to inspire confidence in Georgia’s election system, which was battered during and after the Nov. 3 election. A number of Republicans and surrogates of former President Donald Trump criticized the Georgia governor’s office and the secretary of state’s office for what they said was a lack of transparency and inconsistencies.
The bills now go to the House for consideration.