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Georgia GOP Won't Let Mail-In Voting Derail Another Election

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Republicans controlling a Georgia House committee approved legislation on Wednesday that would prevent election officials from proactively sending mail ballot request forms to voters ahead of an election.

If it makes it through both chambers and gets Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature, it could take effect ahead of November’s general elections.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, sent absentee ballot applications to nearly 7 million active registered voters for the state’s June 9 primary elections, enabling huge numbers to vote by mail.

The election was marred by problems and saw hours-long lines in some locations.

Senate Bill 463 proposes several changes to Georgia election law, including giving county election officials leeway in deciding how many voting machines they’ll need for certain elections.

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It was amended Wednesday morning in the House Governmental Affairs Committee to include language that would block Raffensperger’s office as well as counties from proactively mailing out absentee ballot applications.

Raffensperger pushed back in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying that “By a wide margin, voters on both sides of the political spectrum agree that sending absentee applications to all active voters was the safest and best thing our office could do to protect our voters at the peak of COVID-19. Some seem to be saying that our office should have ignored the wave of absentee voting that was clearly coming.”

Several groups, including the NAACP and Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, were quick to condemn the legislation as well, saying in a joint statement that “localities, as well as the state, should maintain as many possible tools in their toolbox to promote vote by mail generally and certainly in the midst of a raging, ongoing health crisis.”

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Republican Rep. Shaw Blackmon, chairman of the committee, said the change is meant to help county election officials avoid being flooded with absentee ballot applications, as happened in some counties before the June 9 primary.

“There’s no attempt in any way to remove the ability to request or vote in this particular manner,” Blackmon said. “It just is a capacity issue.”


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