Poll papers dominate 2021 Georgia Crossover Day

It’s Crossover Day at the Georgia State Capitol that lawmakers could try late in the day to issue bills from one chamber or another to be considered in the final days of the 2021 session. Several high profile bills could be debated, including a revision of the Citizens’ Detention Act, changes to voting, online sports betting and much more.

You can see the Chamber of the House here and the Chamber of the Senate here.

In the Georgia Senate, more than a dozen bills dealing with elections could see a vote, including a bulk proposal to end the postal vote without an apology, a bill to create a statewide grand jury to hear election fraud, a measure to end the automatic electoral registration process and other improvements after the turbulent 2020 election cycle.

In the months after the Democrats flipped Georgia’s electoral votes and both seats in the US Senate, Republican lawmakers rushed to propose changes to postal voting rules in particular, citing false allegations of electoral fraud and a desire for “uniformity” among the 159 districts of Georgia to create.

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However, an analysis of historical changes to the electoral law by GPB News / Georgia News Lab found that several prominent GOP senators and officials had voted against objections from Democrats in 2005, who at the time argued that postal voting was unsafe.

A House Omnibus Bill, HB 531, would add an ID requirement to postal voting and prevent larger, more diverse democratic districts from offering a full list of weekend votes. An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity / GPB-Nachrichten on waiting times for early voting found that restricting options for early and absent voting would disproportionately affect non-white voters.

Other Bills to Watch in the Senate: Bills on Drag Racing, Removal of Wages for Elected Officials on Charges, Raises for Legislators, and Bill that would empower the Public Health Commissioner to appoint district health directors.

Legislators are expected to debate dozens of bills in the House of Representatives, including a provision that would enable online sports betting in Georgia. Another controversial bill addresses the right to visit family members in hospitals or nursing homes in public health emergencies.

The House is also expected to revise the Citizen’s Detention Act, backed by Governor Brian Kemp. Other bills not yet on the calendar but could be discussed include tuition fees for undocumented Georgians, college athletes paid for their resemblance, and the governor’s curtailment of emergency powers.

Just because a bill doesn’t go past Crossover Day doesn’t mean it’s dead. Legislators can and often will amend wholesale bills to include measures not previously discussed. With electoral law in particular, there will likely be conference committees from both chambers that will have to meet to iron out differences.