Georgia Senate Republicans Take Action to Reform Mail-In Voting System


Republicans in Georgia’s state Senate on Monday introduced legislation intended to ensure election integrity.

Many of the proposals target absentee voting by mail after claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that mail-in voting in the November election was tainted by widespread fraud.

The bills would require a sufficient reason to vote absentee by mail and a photo ID for those who do. They would also ban ballot drop boxes and automatic registration, block outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications and increase poll watching security.

Other proposals would ban new residents from voting in a runoff election and update election officials monthly on registered voters who have died.

One of the bills would limit who is allowed to vote absentee by mail, a method currently available to any Georgian without needing an excuse.

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The bill would only allow absentee voting under particular circumstances, including for voters who are 75 or older, have a physical disability or will be absent from their precinct on the date of the election.

State Sen. Butch Miller, a Republican from Gainesville, is co-sponsoring the bills.

“I want every legal vote counted, and I want better access for all voters. Accusing our reform efforts of suppression is a political tactic, pure and simple,” Miller said in a statement.

“Even those of us who never claimed that the election was stolen recognize that the electorate has lost confidence in the legitimacy of the system.”

Do you think the 2020 election was marred by voter fraud?

Senate Republicans said in December that they would move to implement new voting legislation as soon as the 2021 session convened, responding to “the calls of millions of Georgians who have raised deep and heartfelt concerns” about November’s election results.

Democrats slammed the proposals.

Sen. Nikki Merritt, a Democrat from Grayson, called them a “slate of voter suppression bills” during a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

“I see a desperate attempt by a party clinging to waning power, so out of touch and too lazy to pivot messaging to speak to a broader electorate,” Merritt said of Republicans.

Sen. Elena Parent, a Democrat from Atlanta, called the package of bills a “multi-headed monster” of voter suppression.

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“There is no evidence of fraud in the recent Georgia elections,” Parent tweeted.

While some of the proposals seem likely to pass in some form, others could face opposition even among fellow Republicans. House Speaker David Ralston said in January that he was not convinced of the need to end no-excuse absentee voting.

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