Georgia State Senate Ends No-Excuse Absentee Voting
Georgia’s State Senate has passed a slate of rules that will cutoff thousands of voters from absentee voting and adds several roadblocks for those still eligible.
The bill was passed along party lines 29-20 by the majority-Republican Georgia State Senate. The bill will soon go to a joint session conference committee between the House and Senate before the changes are implemented.
Led by former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Democrats flipped the state for President Joe Biden for the first time in decades in the November general election and elected two U.S. senators in a January special election.
The Georgia GOP’s bill bars voters under 65 from requesting an absentee ballot. Those who can prove physical disability or an actual absence from the district may still vote absentee as well. All absentee voters will have to supply an ID in order to vote. The bill effectively kills no-excuse absentee voting, a system that Georgia voters have had access to for more than 15 years.
State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R) called the increase in absentee voting during the 2020 general election a burden on poll workers.
“The increasing burden on local election offices and the increased cost to each of our counties has risen significantly,” Dugan said in session Tuesday. “In recent years the number of mail-in absentee ballots has increased to the point where counties are in essence running three elections simultaneously.”
Democrats in the Senate say Dugan’s bill is a reaction to the false voter fraud allegations made by former President Donald Trump.
“The purpose of 241 and all of the vote-limiting bills that we have before us is to validate a lie,” Sen. Nikki Merritt (D) said in session Tuesday. “It is to prevent massive voter turnout from happening again, especially in minority communities, our new voters who are turning 18 and hard-working Georgians.”
“It smells like Jim Crow laws of the past. This smells like poll taxing. This smells like voter suppression,” seconded Sen. Lester Jackson (D).
Former President Jimmy Carter has also been outspoken about Georgia’s new voting restrictions.
“As our state legislators seek to turn back the clock through legislation that will restrict access to voting for many Georgians, I am disheartened, saddened, and angry,” Carter wrote in a letter from the Cater Center after Georgia’s State Senate decision. “American democracy means every eligible person has the right to vote in an election that is fair, open, and secure. It should be flexible enough to meet the electorate’s changing needs.” Carter and the Carter Center have called the United States an “oligarchy” and a “backsliding democracy.”