GA House Passes Bill on Voting Access 03/02 06:10
ATLANTA (AP) -- Republican lawmakers in Georgia muscled legislation through
the state House on Monday that would roll back voting access, over the
objection of Democrats and civil rights groups gathered at the Capitol to
The bill comes after record turnout led to Democratic wins in Georgia's
presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs.
House Bill 531 passed the lower legislative chamber by a vote of 97-72. It
now goes to the state Senate for more debate.
The far-reaching bill would require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit
the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot, restrict where
ballot drop boxes could be located and when they could be accessed, and limit
early voting hours on weekends, among many other changes.
It is one of a flood of election bills being pushed by GOP lawmakers across
the country this year that would add new barriers to voting.
Republicans say the measure is needed to restore the public's confidence in
elections, after former President Donald Trump and his allies relentlessly
pushed false claims about fraud.
"House Bill 531 is designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our
voters back into our election system," said Republican Rep. Barry Fleming, the
measure's chief sponsor.
Democrats say the legislation furthers Trump's lies and would
disproportionately affect voters of color.
"It's pathetically obvious to anyone paying attention that when Trump lost
the November election and Georgia flipped control of the U.S. Senate to
Democrats shortly after, Republicans got the message that they were in a
political death spiral," Democratic Rep. Renitta Shannon said. "And now they
are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters
specifically, because they largely powered these wins."
Dozens of protesters gathered just outside the Capitol on Monday in
opposition to the bill, chanting "say no to voter suppression" and "protect the
"Today, before the eyes of this country, Georgia is poised to pass some of
the most egregious, dangerous and most expensive voter suppression acts in this
entire nation, rolling back years of hardball progress and renewing our own
reputation for discrimination," the Rev. James Woodall, president of the
Georgia NAACP, said at the rally.
Alaina Reaves, the president of the Clayton County Young Democrats, was
among the protesters.
"We take one step forward and then you know these legislators are trying to
bring us up to two steps back," Reaves said.
Later Monday, the state Senate Ethics Committee approved a Republican-backed
bill that would limit who can vote absentee in Georgia to those 65 and older,
people with a disability and people who will be away from their precinct on
That bill would do away with no-excuse absentee voting adopted by a
Republican-controlled legislature in 2005. It could soon move to the full
Senate for a vote.
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