Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives passed a major bill on Monday, making major changes to state election practices (https://www.npr.org/2021/03/01/972631655/georgia-house-passes-elections-bill-that-would-limit-absentee-and-early-voting). This comes as a response to the 2020 election cycle where Georgia became a closely fought battleground and a hotbed for controversy. The state voted in favor of Joe Biden, adding to his advantage in the Electoral College, and both Republican Senators were unseated by Democrat challengers, flipping the state to blue for the first time since 1992. Many Republicans were sceptical about voting practices during the election, as changes were made to accommodate for the safety measures needed to combat the ongoing pandemic. Even former President Trump called Secretary of State and fellow Republican Brad Raggensperger, asking him to find the votes needed to turn the state in favor of Trump.
Included in the bill are limits to absentee voting, cut backs on early voting hours on weekends, removal of the Secretary of State as chair of the State Election Board, consistency for early voting periods across the state, and increases to resources and personnel for polling places. Rep. Barry Fleming, Chairman of the House Special Committee on Election Integrity said, "The bill sets more uniform voting times for advanced voting across the state and attempts to bring more uniformity to our state and less confusion."
Democrats have pushed back, arguing that the bill seeks to fix problems that are nonexistent. They are also concerned that these new measures will actually work to suppress and deter voters, especially those who would vote for Democrats. Minority Leader James Beverly said, "In the opening salvo: Line 8 restricts access, Line 15 limits my ability to vote, Line 21 limits my ability to vote, Line 25 limits my ability to vote, Line 30 restricts access, and it goes on and on for 66 pages. I stand in opposition to this bill because Democrats weren't involved in any meaningful conversation before 531 was haphazardly thrown together in committee and passed."
The bill still has to pass through the Senate and changes or additions may be included before it becomes law. Will these limitations and regulations bring greater confidence to the voting process, or are lawmakers finding ways to prevent some from voting?
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