Georgia GOP lawmakers pass sweeping bill to restrict voting

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a series of sweeping election rule changes including imposing voter ID requirements and limiting ballot drop boxes into law

It is no coincidence: Georgia was a battleground state in the 2020 election and was deeply important in Biden's win with its 16 electoral votes as it turned from red to blue.

The Senate has held its first hearing on the For the People Act - the most sweeping voting rights bill in decades. Supporters, including Kemp, said the legislation would safeguard the integrity of elections. Some ranking GOP lawmakers say the legislation features changes responsive to objections when a two-page bill grew to the 94 pages last week. The bills appear to be a response to the barrage of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud promoted by then-President Donald Trump, and parroted by his allies, during the 2020 presidential election.

Rep. Jan Jones, a Milton Republican and Speaker Pro-Tempore, said she believes this legislation provides better consistency while also giving flexibility for communities with vast differences.

As soon as possible, but no later than 10 p.m. on election night, counties must publish the total number of votes cast by each method, and all absentee ballots would have to be counted by 5 p.m. the day after the election, otherwise a county supervisor could face the state's new performance review process. One part of the election voting is the expansion of weekend voting days. Democrats and voting rights activists decry it as among the most damaging attempts to limiting access to the ballot box in the country.

Among highlights, the law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. "The Republican voters I know find this despicable".

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The Senate voting bill now heads before the House Rules Committee, which determines if legislation makes it to the chamber floor. Shamed Dogan of Ballwin the only Republican voting no. Known as the For the People Act, H.R. 1 allows for two weeks of early voting nationwide, automatic voter registration and no-excuse mail-in voting.

"Gov. Whitmer believes our state has a duty to protect the freedom to vote in MI, and any piece of legislation that seeks to take away a person's right to vote or creates barriers to voting is a non-starter", spokesman Bobby Leddy said, referencing voters' approval of the ballot initiative that expanded voting rights. They've also said the plan to require an ID to vote absentee will restrict ballot box access, a provision backed by top Republican officials who call it a more objective way of verifying the voter's identity than the signature match system used now.

Democratic Rep. Rhonda Burnough said the bill was based on lies told by Republicans after last November's election.

President Biden at his news conference on Thursday.

On Monday, a Republican legislator passionately defended himself against accusations he is pushing for voting restrictions that suppress voters - and that he is paying a personal price for his public stance. Debbie Buckner said. "The bill adds up to more burdens and cost and returns to old practices that were abandoned years ago for security, convenience and safety". "We can not allow radical groups, groups like The Lincoln Project to continue to use lies and deception to stoke division and destabilization of our great country".

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