ATLANTA (AP) — Republicans in Georgia’s state Senate have introduced a raft of voting legislation, moving quickly to seek new limitations and requirements after Democrats won the presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs in the once reliably red state.
Democrats say the bills are unnecessary, politically motivated and will suppress legal votes.
Many of the proposals target absentee voting by mail, after former President Donald Trump and his allies — including some lawmakers who co-sponsored the bills — made relentless false claims about widespread fraud in mail voting. State election officials have said unequivocally that there was no widespread fraud or irregularities.
The bills introduced Monday include proposals to restrict who can vote absentee by mail, require a photo ID for those who do vote absentee by mail, ban ballot drop boxes and block outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications. Other proposals would end automatic voter registration when obtaining a driver’s license and ban new residents from voting in a runoff election.
Taken together, the bills represent a sweeping attempt to tighten control over the state’s voting system.
Senate Republicans said in December that they would move to implement new voting legislation as soon as the 2021 session convened, though some of the bills unveiled this week go even further than what they called for then. The caucus said in a statement then that they were reacting to “the calls of millions of Georgians who have raised deep and heartfelt concerns” about November’s election results.
Elena Parent, a Democrat from Atlanta, called the package of bills a “multi-headed monster” of voter suppression.
“There is no evidence of fraud in the recent Georgia elections,” Parent tweeted, noting that President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won in free and fair elections. “Now, GA Senate Republicans introduced bevy of bills to try to stop multi-racial, multi-age coalition that elected them from voting. Desperate & shameful.”
Broad, no-excuse absentee voting was introduced in Georgia by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2005, but Democrats cast nearly twice as many absentee ballots as Republicans in November’s election.