After 15 years of having voters cast absentee votes without excuses, Georgia Republicans say the practice must go.

On Monday, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a package of laws that, among other things, restricts postal voting primarily to Georgians who are older, disabled, or out of town on election day – one of dozens of restrictive electoral measures under scrutiny in state legislatures.

Proponents of the measure, which includes allies of former President Donald Trump and those who opposed his false fraud allegations after Joe Biden angered decades of Republican domination to win the state, say the bills are sensible election security efforts. Democrats, voting representatives, and civil rights groups say something else is going on.

“It is pathetically obvious to anyone paying attention that when Trump lost the election and Georgia transferred control of the US Senate to the Democrats shortly thereafter, the Republicans received news that they were on a political death spiral “said Democrat Renitta Shannon Decatur, said during a floor debate on Republican proposals in Georgia last week. “And now they are doing everything they can to silence the votes of the black and brown voters, especially because they largely drove these victories forward.”

The Senate bill and other restrictive voting bills passed by a chamber of the Georgian General Assembly are expected to end up in the conference committee, where lawmakers will attempt to negotiate competing bills into one final bill.

The grassroots organizers say Georgia, which has just elected two Democrats to the Senate and is changing seats from red to blue, is the zero point for a movement across the country. Republicans have passed at least 253 restrictive electoral laws in 43 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Since they control the majority of legislatures across the country, at least some of the proposals are likely to pass. In the fall, the state Republicans will also have far more leverage in the restructuring process than the Democrats, and experts say lawmakers could easily rule the majority in the Republican House.

“A lot has been written about the US will be a majority colored people – 2040, 2050 – well, that’s 2024 for us here in Georgia,” said Nse Ufot, a voting rights attorney who leads the New Georgia Project, a group who wants to attract and register new voters.

Ufot argued that the proposals represent blatant voter suppression in a state that had already put up major obstacles to the ballot box.

“So we are talking in three years, in four years Georgia will be a multitude, white people will be the minority in Georgia,” she said. “And there are some people who are scared to death of it. And they are doing anything to break the machinery, or break the machinery of our democracy, in order to stay in power as long as possible.”

Suffrage experts and civil rights groups have argued that the movement, taken together, is leading to a national attack that will drive voters of the color out of the electorate, and that federal voting rights – like HR 1, which passed the US House last week – will be protected urgently needed to ensure equal access to the ballot box.

“These policies would in large part protect voters from some of the efforts we see in states across the country,” said Eliza Sweren-Becker, a lawyer at the Brennan Center who pursues restrictive and expansive state nominations. “For example, HR 1 would implement election day registration, a policy that some states are trying to overturn. HR 1, in turn, would implement automatic voter registration, a policy that states like Georgia and Arizona aim to really protect voters . ” . “

While the White House has indicated that voting rights are a priority and an executive order was passed on Sunday aimed at expanding voter registration, proponents of sweeping reform in the narrowly divided Senate are likely to stall. Democrats only control a slim majority with Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaking vote, and many Democratic senators have reiterated their opposition to removing the 60-vote threshold to pass almost any bill, a rule known as filibuster. Meanwhile, an Arizona Republican Party attorney offered a blunt reason for defending the state’s electoral restrictions in the Supreme Court last week: the measures will help Republicans win elections.

Voters report to polling officers on November 3rd to cast their ballots at the Metropolitan Library in Atlanta.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images File

The electoral law debate in Georgia has been marked by last-minute hearings, hasty paraphrases and angry debates. The House has set up a Special Electoral Integrity Committee to pay bills.

John Cusick, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund who is pursuing the proposals, said last-minute hearings had been scheduled at 7 a.m. on the nights before, zoom statements were banned, and hearings without fresh copies of bills were banned had been carried out.

“They were not open, not transparent and not inclusive,” he said.

A pair of Duel Omnibus Packages – one in the house and one in the Senate – – and a small army of standalone bills handles everything from early voting hours to automatic voter registration and dropboxing. Some proposals would restrict weekend early voting in some counties, which is popular with black voters who organize “souls for election” events in churches.

“All of this is a challenge in itself,” said Cusick. “And then when you start putting them together and seeing them interact, it only exacerbates any damage, especially to color pickers who are disproportionately affected.”

Republicans say it’s about bringing back trust. Many GOP voters believe Trump’s lies that the election was stolen, according to public opinion polls.

The House of Representatives’ collective bill aims to “restore our electorate’s confidence in our electoral system,” said Georgia bill sponsor, Republican Barry Fleming of Harlem, near Augusta, in a March 1 speech.

Republican-controlled Georgian legislation, particularly the Senate, has cast doubts about the integrity of the electoral system over the past year. The Senate held hearings to investigate fraud allegations in early December and asked Trump’s conspiracy attorney Rudy Giuliani, charged with defamation for developing unfounded conspiracy theories, to make fantastic claims before a subcommittee.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp during a press conference at a Covid-19 mass vaccination site at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville on Feb.25.Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Once the Georgian legislature pinned down a package of bills that it hopes will become law, the money will go to Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who faces a tough policy decision if some of the more extreme measures come up for signature or veto be sent to his desk.

Kemp, like Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, faced Trump’s wrath for defending the integrity of the competition and not undoing Biden’s victory in the state. Both have stated that they support voter ID cards for mailed ballots, while rejecting or slantingly rejecting proposals like ending mail-in-voting for most eligible residents.

“Ultimately, many of these bills respond to a three-month disinformation campaign that could have been prevented,” Raffensperger said in a statement that his office was reviewing the proposed bills.

Vetoes would run the risk of angering Trump supporters, and they could invite a major challenge in Kemp’s re-election race in 2022, while allowing such a bill to become law would give Democrats ample fuel for their challenges.

Trump has hinted that he could also take on a primary challenge for Kemp.

“Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?” Said Trump at a rally in Georgia in December, referring to outgoing US Representative Doug Collins, a Republican. “He would be a handsome governor.”