After undermining voter confidence in the state’s system of elections, Georgia Republicans have proposed a fresh round of measures to increase voter suppression and limit participation. Hiding under the guise of making sure “legal” votes count, Republican lawmakers want to eliminate automatic voter registration and restrict who can vote with absentee ballots.
Statewide Republican leaders fueled election disinformation in the immediate aftermath of the November general election. Framing increases in voter turnout, particularly among Black and other voters of color, as ‘rigging’ or ‘stealing’ the election continues to drive fear about election integrity going forward.
Several of the bills have moved along to the state senate’s ethics committee for consideration. Voting rights advocate Sarah Tindall Ghazal called the moves an attempt to secure minority rule.
Other bills proposed include banning nonprofit organizations from mailing absentee ballot applications to voters and prohibiting new Georgia residents from voting in runoff elections. The focus on prohibiting voters new to Georgia from voting in a federal runoff election comes after unfounded claims that people were moving into the state just to vote.
A bill introduced in the Georgia House would prevent county boards of elections from using grant funds to improve election administration. Grants to election administrators across the state and the country made the difference in carrying out an election in the middle of a global health pandemic.
Such a move could prevent counties from responding to moments of crisis and critical challenges with additional resources and training. The Center for Tech and Civic Life awarded 2,500 grants to election administrators facing challenges due to COVID-19 across the country.
While he stood firm against Trump’s plans to steal the Georgia election, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has shown support for his party’s efforts in the state legislature. Raffensperger repeatedly assured Georgians there was no evidence of widespread fraud and has previously touted several of the same measures now up for elimination.
Despite attempts to now undo these policies, Republicans have been quick to claim automatic voter registration as the reason for increased voter engagement and turnout.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a majority of Georgians do not support proposed restrictions on absentee ballot use. Republican leadership has claimed that restricting absentee ballot use would. Voting rights advocates pushed back against claims of alleged “capacity issues” last June citing needed investments in county-level election administration.
The power grab happening in the Georgia state legislature proves the urgency of passing federal legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and HR 1, the For the People Act. Sen. Raphael Warnock is a co-sponsor of the Senate version.