Georgia lawmakers debate slate of bills that voting rights advocates say would decrease voter accessibility

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – After two elections with record-breaking turnout, Georgia lawmakers want to change some of the rules that helped voters come out to the polls in November and January.

Over 40 bills in the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate are floating around during this current legislative session, set to end by the end of March or early April.

The main bill gaining attention has been House Bill 531, which proposes multiple amendments and changes to various aspects of Georgia’s voting laws.

News 3 told you about one aspect of the bill last week, which looks to change laws regarding absentee ballots.

District 164 Representative Ron Stephens says he supports that area of the bill which would make the absentee ballot voting process the same as voting in-person, by requiring identification.

“If we make the rules the same across the board, everybody’s going to feel happy,” he said. “They’re going to feel safe that their vote is secure and we’ll move on.”

Voting rights activists like Nsé Ufot from the New Georgia Project say these bills are attempts from the Republican-controlled legislature to suppress access to voting in future elections.

“You can’t say that there wasn’t fraud in Georgia’s elections and that Georgia has the most secure elections in the country and then go and turn around and attack our election’s infrastructure,” said Ufot.

Other proposals include eliminating early voting on Sundays, placing drop off boxes inside early voting locations and limiting drop box hours.

Ufot say proposals like these are designed to shrink the electorate.

“They don’t make it easier for people to participate in our elections and they’re designed to […] allow the current Republicans who are in power to hold onto power,” she said.

District 163 Representative Derek Mallow says he believes they shouldn’t make these changes and should instead focus on promoting better information sharing with voters.

“We should look at how we change polling locations and how that information is given to the public,” he said.

One Senate bill proposes a mandatory requirement of sending in a photocopy of your identification with your absentee ballot.

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