Robin Donaldson holds a banner with a voting quote and photo of John Lewis during a rally against the state’s new voting restrictions in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States, June 8, 2021. REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage / File Photo

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill this year that would create sweeping Republican-sponsored election restrictions with potentially large implications for the conduct of the battlefield state election in 2022 and the U.S. presidential contest 2024 has.

Proponents say the legislation is necessary to protect elections and restore voter confidence in the process. Opponents say it grew out of the Republican Party’s “Big Lie,” the false claim that Democrat Joe Biden’s defeat by incumbent President Donald Trump in November was the result of widespread fraud.

Below are some of the most momentous changes to the law, according to interviews with a dozen Democratic Party district leaders, Republican officials and electoral experts in Georgia.

DROP BOXES

The law limits each county to one mailbox for every 100,000 active registered voters or one for each location for early voting, whichever is smaller. The change will result in a sharp decrease in the 330 mailboxes used across the state in November.

The greatest impact will be felt in the most populous counties. For example, the total number of mailboxes in Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett – the four counties that comprise and surround Atlanta and home to more than a third of the state’s black population – will shrink by three-quarters to 23, based on the latest Voter data.

In addition, the law stipulates that mailboxes must be set up in pre-election offices or voting offices and that they may only be used during pre-election times. In comparison, in 2020, post boxes could be set up outdoors and made available to voters 24 hours a day and until the evening of election day.

ABSENCE ELECTORS

So far, voters could apply for a postal vote six months before an election and up to the Friday before an election. The new law shortens the time window by more than half to 67 days.

The law also makes it illegal for election officials to send postal ballot applications to all voters, as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, did ahead of the state primary in June 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic raged. The November postal vote was particularly popular with the Democrats; Almost two-thirds of the 1.3 million postal votes in Georgia went to Biden.

The law also requires voters to provide proof of identity the first time they request a postal vote.

More than 272,000 registered voters have neither a driver’s license nor a state ID with election officials; Most are black and live in democratic circles, according to an analysis of voter data by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

STATE ELECTORAL COUNCIL

The law created a new chairman of the state electoral committee who would fill a post previously held by the state secretary with an “impartial” executive appointed by state law. Republicans currently control the legislature.

The law also gives the state electoral committee the ability to suspend district electoral officials for poor performance or violations of the state’s electoral regulations. Democrats fear that the Republican-controlled board will be allowed to use Republican partisans to oversee the election counts.

Republicans say guard rails are built into the law to prevent quick or easy removal. Such an action requires at least three violations of the electoral rules or proof of “gross negligence” or “misconduct” over the period of two consecutive elections.

Editing by Soyoung Kim and Marla Dickerson

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