The Georgia House of Representatives approved House Bill 531 by a vote of 97-72 this past Monday. The bill changes the requirements for the voting process. When applying for absentee ballots, there will be a photo ID requirement. Along with that, there are limited times for ballot drop boxes to be accessed and limited weekend early voting opportunities.
An older version of this bill would have blocked counties from early voting on Sundays. Since many black church groups hold voter mobilization events on Sundays, the bill was criticized and amended. Now, voting will be allowed the first Saturday or Sunday of early voting.
It’s not a surprise that Georgia has been the center of political attention. After the general presidential election, Donald Trump made accusations of election fraud. A supporter of the bill, Representative Barry Fleming ® believes the “bill is to make sure that Georgia’s election results get back quickly and accurately.”
But this bill, which is aimed to ensure reliable and secure election results, is argued to just make it harder for citizens to participate in our democracy. This bill is a manifestation of voter suppression, something prevalent in Georgia’s past and present. This bill was criticized, particularly by Democrats, as a means to create more obstacles for voting which will reduce voter turnout. Representative Kimberly Alexander (D) argued this exactly. “Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly are trying to change the rules of the election” because they only can win once they “prevent Georgians from having their votes counted and their voices heard”.
Senait Pirani, Parkview Junior, doesn’t see a need for the bill. “There’s really no evidence at all of voter fraud in the last election and all investigations have proven that all elections in the past year were free and fair”. She shares the same thoughts as Rep. Alexander. “I really think that republicans are just trying to hold onto any power they have left in Georgia. They know that without voter suppression, Democrats will continue winning and that’s what they’re afraid of”. Looking into the future, addressing the gubernatorial elections of next year, Senait states that, “they (Republicans) really just want to make sure kemp wins again and the only way to do that is to undo all the work that Stacey abrams did over the past few years”.