Georgia’s latest electoral law has sparked a number of social media attacks.
“# Georgia’s new anti-voting law makes it a prison crime to vote grandma’s absentee ballot in a dropbox. # SB202,” said a Facebook post by Greg Palast, a freelance investigative reporter published in Rolling Stone and Al Jazeera.
Palast called SB 202 a “horror show” and made the same claim on Twitter about criminalizing the return of Grandma’s ballot.
The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation in its news feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Will grandchildren be handcuffed to jail for voting Grandma’s postal vote? In a word, no.
What Georgian Law Says About Who Can Return Postal Ballot Papers
Palast posted a screenshot of Section 47 of SB 202, a comprehensive electoral law signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25th.
The relevant part of the law states that anyone who “accepts a postal vote from a voter for delivery or return to the Registrar Committee, unless authorized by subsection (a) of Code Section 21-2-385, is guilty of a crime. “”
Some commentators on Palast’s social media posts noted that these exceptions to this pre-existing Georgia Code allow relatives to return ballots on behalf of a family member.
Section 21-2-385 of the Code states that a postal voter: “Must then submit it in person by mail or in person to the Board of Registrars or the postal ballot, if the mother, father, election, mail or The delivery takes place. Grandparents, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, spouse, son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandson, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law or a person who lives in the household of such an elector. ”
That means a long list of relatives can legally return a completed ballot on behalf of a voter – including a grandson for their grandparents. (This section also states that handicapped voter attendants can post or deliver completed ballot papers, as can prison workers on behalf of inmates.)
Keith Williams, General Counsel of House Speaker David Ralston, confirmed that under SB 202 someone can still post their own grandmother’s postal vote in a mailbox, mailbox or post office. The law extends the ban on anyone who is not a relative or roommate from voting a person by post to include dropboxes (unless they fall under other exemptions). This pre-existing Georgia code made no mention of Dropboxes. In 2020, Dropboxes were allowed under an emergency rule due to the pandemic.
Another Georgian law has already made unlawful possession of ballot papers a criminal offense, but SB 202 also makes it clear that unlawful delivery of completed ballot papers is a criminal offense.
The Georgian Foreign Minister’s office also confirmed that under the new law, someone’s grandchild can still send their postal vote by post or mailbox.
We emailed Palast telling him that SB 202 and the code already in place will allow someone to post their own grandmother’s postal vote or another relative’s choice. We asked Palast if he saw anything else on SB 202 indicating that you could not submit your own grandmother’s ballot, and we didn’t hear about it.
A Facebook post stated that Georgia’s new SB 202 electoral law “makes it a prison crime to vote grandma’s postal vote in a dropbox”.
That’s not the case. Under the new law, a long list of relatives can legally return a completed ballot on behalf of a voter – including a grandson for their grandparents.
We judge this claim to be false.
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