SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Nearly one week after the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia, parts of the Election Integrity Act of 2021 are in effect.
Six sections of the 98-page bill went into place on July 1, most of them pertaining to absentee ballots.
Some of the new rules in place include:
- Requests for absentee ballots must be made at least 11 days before Election Day
- An I.D. is required to pick up and return absentee ballots
- Absentee ballots will be mailed later, between 25 to 29 days before Election Day
- A new security paper will be used for absentee ballots, with features to authenticate the ballot
Thomas Mahoney, Chair of the Chatham County Board of Elections, said voters in the county likely will not see the full impact of the law until the gubernatorial election in 2022.
“I think that in a lot of ways this expands voting rights and continues things that we got used to in the pandemic, like the dropboxes,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney is in support of the voting law and believes it will make the system stronger.
“It’s making our elections more convenient and more secure,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to be trying to do — I hope as a state — try to do every year, whether it’s by law or by practice.”
Not all Board of Elections members support the law, though. Antwan Lang is listed as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the State Election Board and secretary of state.
“Right or wrong, it is imperative to learn the new law and I will do everything within my power to continue to educate the citizens of Chatham County on these new laws and how they affect us at home,” Lang said in a statement to News 3.
Despite the legal battle, Mahoney hopes voters will come together and continue to make their voices heard.
“We’re going to go to the polls together and exercise our right to vote,” he said. “We may disagree on who to vote for. That’s fine, that’s what democracy is all about. But we are all going to have that same opportunity to go to the polls and have our voice heard”.
The Chatham County Board of Elections will also plan to discuss adding more precincts and polling locations at their July meeting, according to Mahoney.