State GOP lawmakers have yet to mess with Georgia voting rights in response to the 2020 election

Several bills that have the potential to change Georgians’ electoral laws come to a crossroads on Monday when lawmakers decide which bills will set the deadline for legislation to pass smoothly from one chamber to another.

But Monday’s crossover day in the Georgia Legislature doesn’t mean a dead end for the 2023 legislation, which ranges from banning local governments to setting up mailboxes and changing how runoff elections are handled.

On Friday, the House Committee on Governmental Affairs held hearings on several election bills to establish stricter rules keep ballot papers and other documents that allow communities to use them immediate runoff to determine the winner and allow contestants to win a race if they receive at least 45% of the votes.

The most controversial election bill of the 2023 legislative session is Senate Bill 221. It was put through a Senate Ethics Committee after a number of amendments and doubts about its legal status were raised. The bill would ban counties from providing mailboxes for the absentee, expand opportunities for mass eligibility challenges, and add security measures for elections.

Senator Max Burns, a Sylvania Republican, sponsored the more controversial legislation, which cleared the committee hurdle ahead of Monday’s crossover day. Burns said the bill builds on the state’s 2021 election law revision by improving voting security and better ensuring ineligible voters are included on electoral rolls.

An election law that won’t come under scrutiny Monday is another Burns measure that the Georgia Senate put forward Thursday to ban county or local government officials from directly making donations from outside organizations to conduct elections receive.

burns Senate bill 222 advanced into the House of Representatives in a party-line vote as GOP lawmakers vowed to block outside organizations and nonprofits from donating millions of dollars to offset the cost of running elections, like in a 2020 election cycle disrupted by COVID -19 outbreak was turned on its head.

Democratic lawmakers opposed leaving the oversight of campaign donations to an underfunded office of the secretary of state. They say that SB 222 does not take into account significant population differences between Georgia’s 159 districts.

During the 2021 GOP election law revision, Democrats called it grossly unfair for Republican lawmakers to burden local election officials with more unfunded spending.

Republican lawmakers Thursday complained that liberal-leaning benefactors and organizations were funneling money to Metro-Atlanta counties and other Georgia communities with favorable Democratic electoral histories.

The money sent to support Georgia’s 2020 election came from a variety of sources, from the Southern Poverty Law Center to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Donated $350 million to electoral administration across the country.

However, election administrators say these external donations are helpful for each election season and allow local election administrators to use external funds for expenses such as equipment and poll workers’ compensation. Keeping enough poll workers at polling stations on Election Day has been particularly difficult during the pandemic public health crisis.

“The problem with third-party funding is that it’s selective, not all 159 counties in Georgia enjoy that benefit,” Burns told Senate peers ahead of Thursday’s vote. “There is a mechanism for every donation that goes through the State Department and is distributed fairly, but it can’t go directly to a county or directly to a superintendent or directly.”

Sandy Springs Democratic Assemblyman Josh McLaurin asked Republican lawmakers whether private donations to support sheriffs and police departments should be treated differently than local polling stations.

Democratic Senator Harold Jones of Augusta called Thursday’s session a pivotal moment in which Republican lawmakers recognized the importance of equality.

“Today is a monumental occasion because from this point forward, when we talk about education, we’re talking about the equitable distribution of resources,” Jones said. “Health care, equal distribution of resources. Poverty equal distribution of resources. Criminal justice, equal distribution of resources.”