ATLANTA — Georgia’s state Senate is set to vote on a slate of legislation that would roll back voting access Monday, the deadline that bills must generally pass out of one chamber to remain alive for the session.
Senate Bill 241 would limit absentee voting to people 65 and older, those with a disability and people who will be out of town on Election Day — ending broad no-excuse absentee voting introduced by the Republican-led legislature in 2005. It would also require an ID for those who are able to vote absentee, among many other changes.
The bill has faced pushback from some Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who are uncomfortable with the idea of scraping no-excuse absentee voting entirely after more than a million Georgians used the option in November as the coronavirus pandemic raged.
The chamber is also set to vote on a separate bill that would end automatic voter registration when a person gets a driver’s license, as well as several other voting measures.
The bills are part of a push by Republicans to change voting laws in Georgia after Democrats scored victories in the presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs.
Many of the proposals being floated target absentee voting after former President Donald Trump repeatedly made false claims about fraud in mail voting.
Democrats say the changes aren’t needed and would disproportionately disenfranchise Black Georgians.
The state House has already passed a wide-ranging election bill backed by Republicans. The House bill would require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be located and when they could be accessed, and limit early voting hours on weekends.
The latter provision has raised concerns among voting rights groups who say the proposal seems targeted at hampering Sunday voting — a popular day for Black churchgoers to vote in “souls to the polls” events.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has endorsed the idea of requiring a photo ID for absentee voting but has yet to back any specific proposals. GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he favours ending no-excuse absentee voting as well as requiring an ID for mail voting.
Monday is crossover day in the Georgia legislature. Bills must generally be passed out of one chamber or the other to remain in play for the session, though there are procedural ways to resurrect a bill even if it doesn’t receive passage.
Ben Nadler, The Associated Press