ATLANTA (AP/WSAV) — Republican lawmakers in Georgia’s state House have introduced a sweeping election bill that would place limits on absentee voting and ban counties from holding early voting on Sundays.
That day is popular among Black churchgoers who vote during “Souls to the Polls” events. In Chatham County, the Board of Registrars chairman says Sunday is typically the day with the highest turnout.
“[Voters] don’t want their access to be diminished by legislators who …. decided that Sunday voting is somehow a bad idea,” said Chairman Coin McRae.
The bill comes after a surge in absentee ballots helped Democrats win the presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs in the once reliably red state.
House Bill 531 would require Georgians to provide a driver’s lisence or identification number when reuquesting an absentee ballot. It would also limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office says it already requires voters to submit an identification number on its new online portal. A majority of people who requested an absentee ballot in the last election used the service.
McRrae says the measure is unnecessary because the Board of Registrars already uses signature verification to confirm a voter’s identify. Signature matches are completed when a voter requests an absentee ballot and when it is returned.
“Our signatures do identify us,” explained McRae. “A signature verification is done with all of these absentee ballots, so there may not be an actual submission of a photo identification card, but there is an identifying signature that is verified.”
Other proposed changes would restrict a person’s ability to provide voters food and water, which has become common practice when wait times are long at the polls.
Other changes would only allow absentee ballot drop boxes at places where early in-person voting is happening.
“It would probably mean counties have fewer absentee ballot drop boxes than best practices call for,” said Rebecca Rolfes, the president of the League of Women Voters of the Coastal Empire.