SB 202 is part of a wave of GOP-backed electoral laws that were introduced across the country after the November elections.
ATLANTA – Georgian lawmakers finally passed Republican legislation that could lead to a major overhaul of state suffrage. Republican law ignored protests from critics who gathered outside the capital on Thursday – as they have mostly done for the past two months. They claim the bill will withdraw voting rights based on former President Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
Republicans said the state election law was overdue to be revised independently of the 2020 election.
“One of the things we looked at is a system that’s broken,” said Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) during the in-house debate.
The law provides for new restrictions on postal voting and greater legislative control over elections. Powell said the massive influx of postal ballot papers in the 2020 election resulted in an electoral system that needed to be changed.
“The Georgia electoral system should never be able to handle the volume of votes it handled,” Powell said.
But Democrats claim the system actually worked, investigating and refuting allegations of electoral fraud, mainly made by former President Trump.
“Because people voted, calls from Mar-a-Lago now determine what Georgia does,” said Rep Al Williams, D-Liberty County.
- Requires an ID number such as a driver’s license to request a postal vote
- Closes requests for postal votes 11 days before an election
- Limits the number of postal ballot papers
- Allows the state to take control of what it calls “subpar” local electoral systems
- Prohibits volunteers from giving away food and drink to queuing voters
Opponents claimed the law’s restrictions mainly affect boroughs with more Democrats.
“Let’s make it clear what this does: this is a partisan takeover that was carried out in response to her electoral defeat in the 2020 election cycle,” said MP Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus).
The debate took place when opponents orchestrated another in a series of protests outside the capital. Despite the fact that Republicans pulled out of abolishing postal votes without apologies and voting out on Sunday, Democrats voted as a bloc against the watered-down bills anyway.
“It’s been a terrible day and a number of lies have been told,” said House Representative James Beverly (D-Macon). “But at the end of the day we are consistent, we worry and we are hopeful.”
“I think it’s a very fair bill,” countered House spokesman David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “I think it’s a big step in maximizing participation in our voting process and maximizing accessibility and integrity in our electoral process.”
The House passed the measure in a party line. Late Thursday, the Senate passed the same measure in a vote on the party line. Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure before dark. His office tweeted this picture of the signature.
The legislation is part of a wave of GOP-backed electoral laws introduced in states across the country after former President Donald Trump fueled false claims of fraud.
The signing immediately met with violent reactions from critics.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the bill “divisive” and “unnecessary” and said it was “intended to suppress voter turnout”.
The passage from SB 202 is deeply disappointing. This split calculation is unnecessary and is intended to suppress voter participation in color communities and other minority groups. It’s shameless to change the rules of the game just because you’ve lost.
– Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) March 25, 2021
Georgia representative Park Cannon was also arrested in the state capital after she knocked on the door of the governor’s office while delivering his post-signature remarks. Cannon is a Democrat who represents East Atlanta.
11Alive photojournalist Pete Smith’s video showed Rep. Park Cannon standing outside the governor’s ceremonial office – where he delivered these remarks – and knocking on the door.
According to a Georgia State Patrol story, Cannon was ordered by officials not to knock on the door because of the press conference inside, and if she did not, she would be arrested for disability.
After an exchange of words and another attempt by Cannon to knock on the door, video show officials informed her that she was arrested. The video then shows her being brought out of the Capitol. She was later taken to Union City Prison – an overflow facility in Fulton County Prison – and charged, according to the GSP, with obstructing law enforcement and preventing or interrupting meetings of the General Assembly or other meetings.
Material from the Associated Press appears in this report.