ATLANTA – Georgia’s new electoral law, also known as Senate Bill 202, has sparked much debate in the United States.

Republicans have claimed it would actually increase electoral access in the state. Governor Brian Kemp has repeatedly defended the new electoral law, calling it a necessary step to protect the elections in Georgia.

The Democrats have equated it with “Jim Crow” laws, claiming it is more about voter suppression. Several civil rights groups have filed a 92-page federal lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare it unconstitutional.

Both sides have made their claims through the law, but what is actually in the final version? Here’s a breakdown of what was signed in Senate Bill 202.

[READ: All 98 pages of Senate Bill 202 on Georgia General Assembly website]


Voters in Georgia had to show photo ID when voting in person. According to the new law, voters must now also identify themselves in order to be able to vote by postal vote.

For most, this ID is either a driver’s license or a government ID card. If a voter requests a postal vote and returns the ballot, voters must include a copy of their license or state ID. If a voter does not have one, the law requires him to enclose a photocopy of another accepted form of identification.

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If the voter does not have a license or state ID, his date of birth and the last four digits of his social security number must be given on the voting slip; If the voter does not have a social security number, they must enclose a photocopy of another accepted form of identification.

Republicans argue that photo ID is a “more objective” way of verifying a voter’s identity than a “subjective” signature match.

Georgians can get a state ID for free. But critics of the law say potential voters who encounter obstacles without a license or state ID number are also most likely to miss the alternative documents, such as a birth certificate, that would prevent them from getting a state ID.

[READ: Chairs of Republican, Democratic Parties debate the details of new voting law]


Under the new law in Georgia, electoral officials are not allowed to send requests for postal votes to voters unless they request it. Third parties who have sent ballots in the past are now required to include a disclosure stating that they are not government officials and that it is not an official ballot.

Voters can request a vote 78 days before election day. The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 11 days before the election day. Previously, voters in most counties allowed motions to begin 180 days before the election and last until the Friday before the election.

[READ: Over 100 CEOs, leaders gather to speak out against voting law changes]

Another point of discussion is how the postal ballot boxes will work in the future. Georgia did not have postal voting boxes before the 2020 elections. In 2020, counties could add postal voting boxes after an emergency rule was enacted by the state electoral committee. The boxes should be video-monitored around the clock and be on “publicly accessible state property”.

Governor Kemp said the new law will make ballot boxes an official part of Georgia’s electoral law, which is true. The new law stipulates that every county has at least one mailbox. As of November 2020, any Georgia county was allowed but not required to provide a mailbox to voters.

However, there are limits to the dropboxes. Dropboxes can now only be placed in early voting locations and are only available during voting times.

Dropboxes are also limited to one per 100,000 active voters or one for each place for early voting, and the county will choose the smaller of the two.

In Fulton County, the new law allows eight mailboxes, compared to 38 available to voters in November 2020. In Cobb County, officials had 16 mailboxes as of November, but about five will be allowed under the new law.

Another change for postal ballot papers: election workers can scan ballot papers that have been verified from the third Monday before the election. At least three registrars, deputy registrars, polling officers or postal polling officers must be present before the start and at all times.

[READ: Gov. Kemp defends signing voting law as opponents file federal lawsuit]


Governor Brian Kemp has argued that the new law extends early voting. It adds an additional Saturday to the previous early voting period and allows counties to also offer two Sundays for voting.

However, critics say this only helps rural counties expand access to voters, and not metropolitan areas.

The early voting can take place on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., but the districts have the option of extending the opening times to 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Early voting has become a focus for Republican leaders after Major League Baseball moved its all-star game from Georgia to Colorado.

Colorado offers 15 days of early voting compared to Georgia’s 17 days of early voting. However, the context in which most people in Colorado vote is important. Colorado has a universal vote-by-mail system and a voting slip is automatically sent to every active registered voter with no express request.

[RELATED: Delta CEO blasts Georgia voting law, calling it “unacceptable”; Gov. Kemp responds]


The law makes it a misdemeanor for people to give “any money or gifts, including but not limited to food and drink,” to anyone who comes to vote. It applies within 50 feet of a polling station or within 25 feet of any voter at a polling station.

Poll workers are allowed to set up self-service water stations for voters in line.

Proponents of this say they are trying to crack down on political organizations or interest groups that are trying to influence voters just before they cast a vote.

Critics say it would even punish impartial groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line.

The Gwinnett County attorney general says he will not prosecute people who distribute food or water to people faced with a choice, as long as they do so in an impartial manner.


The new law gives the state election committee additional powers to take over any district election office in the event of poor performance.

The draft law also gives the General Assembly more say in the state election committee. It will remove the presidency from the foreign minister and the legislature will elect the presidency instead.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Channel 2 Action News that he was largely a supporter of the new electoral integrity law, but that he had a problem with the provision that removes him from the presidency.

“Who do you actually hold accountable if you don’t make the decision? While previously, when a decision was made, you could hold the elected official as chairman. That was me, ”said Raffensperger. “The Foreign Minister has chaired this body for over 60 years.”

[MORE: Secretary of state says he disagrees with some provisions of new election law, but mostly supportive]

Under the law, the board of directors could intervene in up to four districts at the same time and appoint a temporary superintendent who can hire and fire staff, including election officers and election officers.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action, said the bill allows “full takeover of the district electoral boards and the state electoral board itself by partisan politicians in the state legislature” and called it “a shameful seizure of power.”


The districts must certify the election results within six days instead of the currently permitted 10 days.

Election officials must submit the total number of ballots by 10:00 p.m. on the evening of the election. The workers must also count the ballots continuously until they are finished.

The new law shortens the deadline for runoff elections from nine to four weeks, with the legislator saying the current period is “exhausting” and must be shortened to a “more manageable period”.

The shorter period means less time for early and postal votes. Instead of three weeks before the run-off elections, the early voting would begin “as early as possible”, but no later than the second Monday before the election.

Mobile units are now considered illegal unless the governor declares a state of emergency. Fulton County executives believe they are wrongly targeted for the deployment.

[RELATED: Mobile voting units now parked because of Georgia’s new election law]

A hotline will be set up in the Georgia Attorney General’s office through which individuals can report illegal voting activity.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.