ATLANTA: Republican lawmakers introduced a sweeping electoral law in the Georgian State House on Thursday that restricts out-of-office voting and prohibits counties from voting early on Sundays, a popular day for black churchgoers who vote during Souls to the Polls events.

The bill comes after black voters and a surge in postal votes helped Democrats win the presidential election and two US Senate runoffs in the once dependably red state.

House Bill 531 would require photo ID for postal voting, limit the time a postal vote could be requested, limit where ballot boxes could be placed, prohibit counties from voting early on Sundays, and limit the use of mobile voting units in many other changes.

Fair Fight, a constituency founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, said on Twitter that the proposal would have devastating effects on voting rights in Georgia and raise too many concerns to be counted.

Several Democrats and constituencies also criticized the speed with which the bill is advancing. The bill was heard in the House Special Committee on Electoral Integrity the same day it was introduced, without public announcement, and before many lawmakers had time to review the numerous provisions it contained.

The bill was introduced the same day that a Republican-controlled Senate committee approved several other GOP-backed voting proposals.

The Senate Ethics Committee voted for Senate Bill 67, which requires a person to provide their driver’s license number, another state ID number, or a photocopy of an approved ID card when submitting a postal vote request. The bill could soon be sent to the entire Senate for voting.

Currently, photo ID is not required for postal voting and voters are verified by their signature. This verification process has been the target of repeated false claims by former President Donald Trump, despite electoral officials in Georgia making a strong statement that there was no widespread fraud.

Republican lawmakers have taken up the issue, stating that an absentee voter ID card should be required to secure the process and restore confidence in the system.

Democrats say the measure is unnecessary and only disenfranchises legitimate voters.

State Senator Larry Walker, a Perry Republican who supports the legislation, said it was an attempt to find an easily verifiable way to confirm that the person applying for the ballot is, in fact, who they say that they are them.

Democrats on the committee expressed concerns that this could put a strain on some voters, including older and first-time voters without a license. They also raised concerns that mailing a copy of ID such as a passport could lead to privacy and identity theft issues.

Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, and Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State, both Republicans, have endorsed the idea of ​​requiring photo ID for postal voting, although neither of them supported a specific proposal.

The Senate Committee also approved Senate Draft 89, which would create a position for a new electoral officer who would report to the state electoral board and intervene in underperforming county electoral offices. The State Election Board would also set the criteria for a poorly performing county.

Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Atlanta, was often picked by government officials on election day for issues such as long lines.

State Senator Sally Harrell, an Atlanta Democrat, said she feared partisan motives might come into play. The state election committee currently has four Republican members and one Democrat.

The Senate committee has also passed laws requiring districts to begin processing postal ballot papers before election day. Raffensperger implemented this rule in the last election cycle. Another bill approved by the committee would reduce the time it takes counties to report records of who voted in an election from 60 days to 30 days.

The final bill approved by the committee on Thursday, Senate Bill 188, would require the Secretary of State to create a public portal showing how many methodological ballots were cast before results could be reported. If passed, the measure could delay the publication of the results for several days.

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