ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – After weeks of revisions, two bills in the state legislature could change the way you vote: house bills 531, and senate bill 202, which the house just passed today.
Now, with less than a week left before the 2021 legislative session comes to a close, state lawmakers are hashing out the final details at the gold dome focusing on voting rights and election safety.
Atlanta Bureau Chief, Archith Seshadri, breaks it down from the state capitol.
New voting bills in the Georgia State Legislature could restrict the location of drop boxes, limit the time to request absentee ballots, require a photo ID for absentee voting and make it a crime for anyone giving out food or water while voter’s stand in line.
Gabe Sterling said, “No matter where you live in Georgia you should have the same amount of time to vote. Just because you live in a rich county, doesn’t mean you should have more access than a poor county.”
“These are revenge bills. It’s revenge bills for losing an election. It is down right racist and it should be stopped,” said Stacey Abrams.
Democrats call the bills a form of voter suppression and say it would disenfranchise minority voters.
“These are solutions in a search of a problem. There is nothing broken that these laws fix,” said Abrams.
Sterling said, “Well for the last few years, Georgia has been the easiest places to vote and register, and very difficult to cheat.”
Republican lawmakers say the changes will restore voter confidence in elections.
“Was there widespread issues, no, but can we make the system better…yes,” said Sterling.
Abrams said, “When you attack voters of color, because the laws are so broad, it will attack everyone. It will increase taxes for people who live in counties especially in smaller counties because the state doesn’t pay to for the cost of these laws.”
Georgia’s secretary of state says there were no examples of widespread fraud in the recent election despite the numerous audits.
Fair Fight Action’s Stacey Abrams said, “Either GA will be a state that it acknowledges its diversity and leadership and does what’s right to ensure every voice that is eligible can be heard of we are going backwards to Jim Crow.”
“I think that is hyperbole that undermines a system when we need to be calm and focus on election administration and make things better for Georgians,” said State Voting Implementation Manager Gabe Sterling.
State lawmakers have until the end of the month to finalize the differences in conference committee meetings before the 2021 session wraps up, with the omnibus senate bill s-b- 202 most likely the one that will make the final cut.