The governor of Georgia signed a GOP-backed bill that will make sweeping changes to the state’s election process.
On Thursday (March 25), Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a nearly 100-page bill that includes restrictions on the voting by email option and gives greater control to the Republican-dominated legislature during the election process.
“After the November election last year, I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed,” said Kemp. “Georgia will take another step toward ensuring our elections are secure, accessible and fair.”
According to the Associated Press, those interested in voting by mail are required to present their photo IDs in place of the previous signature matching option.
Kemp’s bill states that primary and general elections will allow counties to conduct early voting on both Saturdays and Sundays. It cuts down the duration of runoff elections, while expanding early voting for primary and general elections.
The bill also reduces the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot and prevents third-parties from sending applications to voters who already requested the mail ballots. Additionally, drop boxes will only be accessible inside advance voting locations during their hours of operation.
In one provision, non-election workers are prohibited from giving food to people waiting in line to cast their votes. In another, the elected secretary of state will no longer serve as the chair of the state election board and will instead be chosen by the Republican-dominated General Assembly. The state board will also be able to remove and/or replace underperforming election officials.
Republican lawmakers helped to pass the law, voting 100-75 in the House and 34-20 in the state Senate. Democrats objected the proposed changes and are criticizing the new bill.
During a news conference on Thursday (March 25), President Joe Biden addressed the voter restrictions imposed in Kemp’s election bill. “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick,” he said.
Kemp’s bill comes months after a slew of registered voters in Georgia voted for Biden in the presidential election and turned the state blue for the first time in 28 years.