Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a sweeping Republican-sponsored state election review, which includes new restrictions on postal voting and gives the legislature more control over how elections are held.
Among other things, the law requires photo ID to vote absent by mail after more than 1.3 million voters in Georgia used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reduces the time people have to request a ballot in their absence and limits where ballot boxes can be placed and when they are accessible.
Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately deprive voters of color. It’s part of a wave of GOP-backed election lawsafter former President Trump sparked false claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat.
The bill, SB 202, passed the state house 100-75 earlier Thursday, before the senate quickly approved house changes 34-20. Republicans in the legislature supported, while Democrats were against.
Kemp provided comments on the bill during a live stream and was interrupted by Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, according to CBS partner WGCL-TV. Cannon, who was among a group of protesters, knocked on Kemp’s door and was subsequently arrested by police. She has been charged with impeding law enforcement and preventing or disrupting sessions of the General Assembly or other meetings of members, a felony. She was later released.
Conservative groups welcomed the passing of the legislation, while liberals expressed concern.
“While some on the left tried to suppress Georgian voters by pursuing policies that undermine confidence in state elections, government leaders and Georgian lawmakers fought to restore voters’ confidence,” the conservative Heritage Action said. “And today they succeeded – this is a huge victory for every Georgian voter and for our country.… Thanks to them, Georgia is now leading the nation in free, fair and safe elections – the rest of the nation should. to follow.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Georgia’s Republican leaders were “cringing for extremists” with the legislation.
“Thousands of voters have made it clear that the types of provisions in SB 202 are unacceptable and will cause disproportionate damage to historically disenfranchised communities, young voters and voters with disabilities,” said Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director of the SPLC Action Fund. “The speed and magnitude of the current shift in electoral policy in Georgia is unprecedented and unlike any other major policy shift in the recent history of the state.”
During his first press conference as president on Thursday, President Biden expressed his openness to changing the filibuster on certain issues, such as voting rights.
“Filibusters broke, and we were able to break the filibuster, get a quorum and vote. The functioning of our democracy, like the right to vote – like the basic right to vote. We changed the filibuster in the past.” , he said.