Georgia voting law disqualifies ballots cast in the wrong precinct | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Over 3,300 Georgia voters who showed up at the wrong voting location in November were able to cast provisional ballots and have their votes counted in statewide races, such as for president and the Senate. But most out-of-precinct votes won’t count in future elections, according to Georgia’s voting law, Senate Bill 202 voting law disqualifies ballots cast outside a voter’s home polling place, except if cast after 5 p.m. on election day, when voters might not have time to drive to the correct precinct before polls close. Under previous state law, election officials counted votes for races for which the voter would have been eligible in his or her correct precinct. Election workers counted 3,357 out-of-precinct provisional ballots in the general election, according to state election data The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act. Provisional ballots are used when there’s a question about a voter’s eligibility. The most common reasons for using provisional ballots are incorrect precincts, incomplete registrations and signature mismatches on absentee ballots. In all, 10,521 provisional ballots were accepted and 2,795 were rejected in November’s election. Election officials rejected provisional ballots when voters failed to verify registration information or mismatched signatures.

Full Article: Ballots cast in wrong precinct won’t count new Georgia voting law

Georgia elections official slams Arizona audit as ‘neither transparent nor, likely, legal’ | Jordan Williams/The Hill

A Georgia elections official slammed an audit of ballots cast during the 2020 elections in Maricopa County, Ariz., as “neither transparent, nor likely, legal.” The audit of Maricopa County — the largest county in Arizona — comes as Republican lawmakers in the state seek to back former President Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was tainted by voter fraud. Such claims by Trump and his allies have largely been disputed. Elections officials at the state and federal levels — including former Attorney General William Barr — have said that the 2020 elections were not subject to widespread voter fraud. Gabriel Sterling, a top elections official in Georgia, decried the audit as an attempt to “undermine confidence in elections.” “This ‘audit’ in Arizona is another step in undermining confidence in elections. This process is neither transparent nor, likely, legal,” Sterling said on Twitter. “Any ‘findings’ will be highly suspect now that chain of custody has been violated by partisan actors,” he added.

Full Article: Georgia elections official slams Arizona audit as ‘neither transparent nor, likely, legal’ | TheHill

Georgia: Why Local Election Officials Take Issue With Many Parts Of New Law | Emma Hurt/NPR

Three weeks after it was signed into law, local election officials in Georgia are still trying to understand all the implications of the state’s controversial election overhaul. In a series of interviews, election officials said that while the Republican-led measure has some good provisions, many felt sidelined as the legislation was being debated, and believe that parts of it will make Georgia elections more difficult and expensive. One provision that particularly worries many officials is a new ability for the State Election Board to take over a county’s election management. The law empowers the state panel to take over if, in at least two elections within two years, the board finds “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence in the administration of the elections.” Tonnie Adams, chief registrar of Heard County on the Alabama state line, said this provision, coupled with another change — which replaces the secretary of state as board chair with an appointee of the General Assembly — are problematic. “The legislature now has three seats that they appoint on the State Election Board,” he said. “We thought that that was a gross overreach of power from one branch of government.”

Full Article: Why Local Election Officials In Georgia Take Issue With Many Parts Of New Law : NPR

Editorial: A partisan response to an imaginary crisis: Georgia voting law changes reflects badly on the state’s image | Mark Murphy/Savannah Morning News

The right to vote is one of the most fundamental privileges in any free nation. The capacity of voters to peacefully change the trajectory of government is a powerful tool, forcing elected officials to be held accountable for their actions on a regular basis. As originally ratified, the U.S. Constitution granted each state the right to determine voting qualifications for its residents. After the Civil War, there were three Reconstruction amendments that limited this discretion. The 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, was the most important of these, providing that “[t]he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  Women were first allowed to vote after the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Unfortunately, southern states actively sought to disenfranchise racial minorities who tried to exercise their right to vote. Intimidation, outright voter fraud and so-called “Jim Crow laws,” which imposed voting restrictions like literacy tests, property ownership requirements, poll taxes, etc., were used to severely limit African American participation in the voting process in the south. The results were striking: In North Carolina, not a single Black voter was eligible to vote in any election from 1896 until 1904. In Louisiana, only 730 Black voters were registered to vote statewide in 1904 — less than 0.5% of the Black male population at that time.

Full Article: Georgia’s new election law, SB202, harms state’s image

Georgia’s Voting Law Will Make Elections Easier to Hack | Lawrence Norden and Gowri Ramachandran/Slate

When Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s new restrictive voting provisions into law, he claimed the controversial changes—including making it harder to request mail ballots and use drop boxes—are necessary to improve election security. These bills, of course, spring from the Big Lie about our elections, but there is another irony here. Much of the “election integrity” legislation in Georgia and around the country would actually weaken our election systems and reduce their capacity to recover from a technological problem, whether a malfunction or an attack. During the 2020 election, the increased variety in voting methods and the longer time frame for voting meant that, in many states, election officials were handling smaller groups of voters and ballots at once than they were in past elections. If a technological problem arose, the reduced crowds made it easier to diagnose and solve the problem and get voters voting again. For example, during early voting in 2020, Georgia’s statewide voter registration database was having trouble handling the logins of election staff across the state. The problem caused extremely long lines. Georgia officials weren’t able to fix it immediately, but within a few days the issue was addressed, lines improved, and voters who might have not been able to stand in long lines because of work or other obligations still had opportunities to cast their ballot. If there had only been one or two days for in-person voting, those voters might not have had another chance. And the lines would have been even longer, with many more voters showing up to cast their ballot at once. Many of the so-called election integrity bills would reduce the availability of ballot drop boxes—one bill in Florida would eliminate them entirely. During the 2020 election, drop boxes were a convenient voting option for many people who might have been concerned about the reliability of the post office: Voters could drop their absentee ballot into a nearby box instead of showing up to polling places on Election Day. This helped reduce the lines at polling places for those voters who preferred or needed the in-person option instead. Drop boxes helped all voters—absentee and in-person—by making sure they didn’t all show up to the polling place on Election Day, which would have made it harder for poll workers to deal with inevitable technical problems or cyberattacks. Even if fears of delays with the postal system subside in the future, cyberattacks or staffing cuts could result in slow mail service, or election officials could have trouble processing ballot requests quickly, leading to delays in voters receiving their ballots in time to mail them back. Drop boxes will help ensure the resiliency of the system.

Full Article: Restrictive voting laws don’t enhance election security. They threaten it.

Georgia: Fulton County Elections will be more expensive, more complicated | Ben Brasch/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Having the eyes of the nation trained on you isn’t cheap. That’s why Fulton County spent a record-breaking $38.3 million to run the blockbuster 2020 election cycle. But officials expect elections costs to keep going up. To put the $38 million presidential pricetag into perspective: Fulton spent $9.9 million in 2016 and about $6.1 million in 2012. Compare the $11.1 million the county spent during the historic 2008 election to the $11.5 million the county plans to spend on the 2022 general election. Fulton elections head Richard Barron said Wednesday he expects it will cost $7.2 million to run this year’s municipal election, which includes the Atlanta mayoral contest. That doesn’t include the cost of a runoff. After a calamitous June primary — with some voters waiting hours in line, many because they never received mail-in ballots because Fulton’s system was overwhelmed — the county budgeted to administer the election.

Full Article: Fulton: Elections will be more expensive, more complicated

Georgia: Why Local Election Officials Take Issue With Many Parts Of New Law | Emma Hurt/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Three weeks after it was signed into law, local election officials in Georgia are still trying to understand all the implications of the state’s controversial election overhaul. In a series of interviews, election officials said that while the Republican-led measure has some good provisions, many felt sidelined as the legislation was being debated, and believe that parts of it will make Georgia elections more difficult and expensive. One provision that particularly worries many officials is a new ability for the State Election Board to take over a county’s election management. The law empowers the state panel to take over if, in at least two elections within two years, the board finds “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence in the administration of the elections.” Tonnie Adams, chief registrar of Heard County on the Alabama state line, said this provision, coupled with another change — which replaces the secretary of state as board chair with an appointee of the General Assembly — are problematic. “The legislature now has three seats that they appoint on the State Election Board,” he said. “We thought that that was a gross overreach of power from one branch of government.” Joseph Kirk, Bartow County’s elections supervisor, also took issue with the hypothetical scenario. The legislature could effectively “replace a bipartisan board [of elections] with a single appointee that has complete control over that department,” Kirk said. “So a person could come in, and hire and fire and discipline as they see fit. And as I read this law, I’m really hoping they never need to go that route.”

Full Article: Why Local Election Officials In Georgia Take Issue With Many Parts Of New Law | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia election disputes now in lawyers’ court | Jim Denery/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voting lawsuits have been keeping the state’s lawyers busy, but a federal judge recently lessened their load in case going back to the 2018 race for governor. Fair Fight, a voting organization that Democrat Stacey Abrams founded following her loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the governor’s race, filed the suit. The group hoped to make fundamental changes to elections, taking on voter registration purges, ballot cancellations and long lines. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones threw out many of Fair Fight’s claims, ruling against challenges to registration cancellations and ballot rejections involving problems such as mismatched signatures or missing information. He also rejected claims that too few voting machines were available and poll worker training had been inadequate. The case will still involve allegations concerning Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration policy, voter list accuracy and absentee ballot cancellations, for example, when a voter requests a mail-in ballot but then tries to cancel it when going to the polls to vote in person. The state’s “exact match” policy prevented 53,000 Georgians who tried to sign up to vote from having their registrations accepted before the 2018 election. Registrations were placed in “pending” status for several reasons, including a missing hyphen, an extra space or the use of a nickname in official government records.

Full Article: Capitol Recap: Georgia election disputes now in lawyers’ court

Georgia’s New Law, and the Risk of Election Subversion | Nate Cohn/The New York Times

What would have happened if the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, had responded, “OK, I’ll try,” in a January phone call after President Trump asked him to “find” 11,000 votes? No one can be sure. What is clear is that the question has been overlooked in recent months. Public attention has mostly moved on from Mr. Trump’s bid to overturn the election; activists and politicians are focused more on whether to restrict or expand voting access, particularly by mail. But trying to reverse an election result without credible evidence of widespread fraud is an act of a different magnitude than narrowing access. A successful effort to subvert an election would pose grave and fundamental risks to democracy, risking political violence and secessionism. Beyond any provisions on voting itself, the new Georgia election law risks making election subversion easier. It creates new avenues for partisan interference in election administration. This includes allowing the state elections board, now newly controlled by appointees of the Republican State Legislature, to appoint a single person to take control of typically bipartisan county election boards, which have important power over vote counting and voter eligibility. The law also gives the Legislature the authority to appoint the chair of the state election board and two more of its five voting members, allowing it to appoint a majority of the board. It strips the secretary of state of the chair and a vote.

Full Article: How Georgia’s New Law Risks Making Election Subversion Easier – The New York Times

Georgia: Republicans ramp up attacks on corporations like Coca-Cola, Delta and MLB over voting law | Marianna Sotomayor and Todd C. Frankel/The Washington Post

Republicans are attacking corporations over their decision to condemn the controversial Georgia voting law, part of the party’s embrace of the populism espoused by President Donald Trump even as it creates tensions with traditional allies in the business community. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday accused corporations of siding with Democrats’ portrayal of the law as the new Jim Crow, which he called an attempt to “mislead and bully the American people.” He argued that it would expand, not restrict, voter access to the polls, and his statement included a threat of unspecified “serious consequences” if companies continued to stand opposite Republicans on a variety of issues. “From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” McConnell said in his statement. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made similar remarks in questioning why Republicans should pay attention to companies on policy issues after they embrace positions at odds with the party. “Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & antitrust?” he tweeted Friday.

Full Article: Republicans ramp up attacks on corporations like Coca-Cola, Delta and MLB over Georgia voting law – The Washington Post

Georgia: Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the New Voting Law | David Gelles/The New York Times

On March 11, Delta Air Lines dedicated a building at its Atlanta headquarters to Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former mayor. At the ceremony, Mr. Young spoke of the restrictive voting rights bill that Republicans were rushing through the Georgia state legislature. Then, after the speeches, Mr. Young’s daughter, Andrea, a prominent activist herself, cornered Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian. “I told him how important it was to oppose this law,” she said. For Mr. Bastian, it was an early warning that the issue of voting rights might soon ensnare Delta in another national dispute. Over the past five years, corporations have taken political stands like never before, often in response to the extreme policies of former President Donald J. Trump. After Mr. Trump’s equivocating response to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, Ken Frazier, the Black chief executive of Merck, resigned from a presidential advisory group, prompting dozens of other top executives to distance themselves from the president. Last year, after the killing of George Floyd, hundreds of companies expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. But for corporations, the dispute over voting rights is different. An issue that both political parties see as a priority is not easily addressed with statements of solidarity and donations. Taking a stand on voting rights legislation thrusts companies into partisan politics and pits them against Republicans who have proven willing to raise taxes and enact onerous regulations on companies that cross them politically. It is a head-spinning new landscape for big companies, which are trying to appease Democrats focused on social justice, as well as populist Republicans who are suddenly unafraid to break ties with business. Companies like Delta are caught in the middle, and face steep political consequences no matter what they do.

Full Article: Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law – The New York Times

Georgia Elections officials fear law could politicize voting operations | Julia Harte and Joseph Ax/Reuters

Election officials in conservative and liberal parts of Georgia say a new law allowing a Republican-controlled state agency to take over local voting operations could make the process too partisan. Voting rights advocates have also warned that the provision, part of sweeping voting restrictions signed into law last week by Governor Brian Kemp, targets Democratic bastions such as Atlanta’s Fulton County that helped deliver the party control of the White House and Congress in recent elections. The new law has mostly gained attention for its measures to strengthen absentee ballot identification requirements, curtail ballot drop box use and penalize members of the public who offer food and water to voters in line. Months after former Republican President Donald Trump falsely claimed voter fraud in the 2020 elections, Republican backers say Georgia’s law is needed to restore confidence in election integrity. Civil rights groups have filed three lawsuits asserting the law illegally restricts voting rights, particularly for minority voters. The legislation authorizes the Republican-majority legislature to appoint the state election board’s majority while demoting the elected secretary of state, Georgia’s top election official, to a non-voting position.

Full Article: Elections officials fear Georgia law could politicize voting operations | Reuters

Georgia voting restrictions challenged again in third federal lawsuit | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Another federal lawsuit is challenging Georgia’s new voting law, the third court effort to stop election rules that plaintiffs say will make it harder for all voters to cast their ballots, especially African Americans. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other plaintiffs, is aimed at many parts of the voting law, including absentee ID requirementsdrop box restrictions, absentee ballot request deadlines and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. “Simply put, this new law not only seeks to suppress the votes of Black and brown people, but it is also racist and seeks to return us to the days of Jim Crow,” Bishop Reginald Jackson of the AME Church’s Sixth District, which includes Georgia, wrote in a letter to parishioners. Republican defendants in the suit, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have said the voting law will increase confidence in Georgia’s voting system after then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed he had won the election. Election officials say there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, and recounts verified the results.

Full Article: AME Church sues in federal court to block Georgia’s new voting law

Georgia: Why the G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Will Hit Black People Hard | Richard Fausset, Nick Corasaniti and Mark Leibovich/The New York Times

After record turnout flipped Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control the state Legislature moved swiftly to put in place a raft of new restrictions on voting access, passing a new bill that was signed into law on Thursday. The law will alter foundational elements of voting in Georgia, which supported President Biden in November and a pair of Democratic senators in January — narrow victories attributable in part to the turnout of Black voters and the array of voting options in the state. Taken together, the new barriers will have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of the state’s population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republican legislation will undermine pillars of voting access by limiting drop boxes for mail ballots, introducing more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting and making it a crime to provide food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Long lines to vote are common in Black neighborhoods in Georgia’s cities, particularly Atlanta, where much of the state’s Democratic electorate lives. The new law also expands the Legislature’s power over elections, which has raised worries that it could interfere with the vote in predominantly Democratic, heavily Black counties like Fulton and Gwinnett.

Full Article: Why the Georgia G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Will Hit Black People Hard – The New York Times

Georgia: Sweeping changes to elections signed into law | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed a vast rewrite of Georgia’s election rules into law Thursday, imposing voter ID requirements, limiting drop boxes and allowing state takeovers of local elections after last year’s close presidential race. Kemp finalized the bill just over an hour after it cleared the General Assembly, leaving no doubt about its fate amid public pressure against voting restrictions. Republican lawmakers pushed the legislation through both the House and Senate over the objections of Democratic lawmakers. The legislation passed along party lines in both chambers, with votes of 34-20 in the Senate and 100-75 in the House. Protesters outside the Capitol said the bill will disenfranchise voters, calling it “Jim Crow 2.0.” State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, was arrested by state troopers after knocking on Kemp’s office door to try to witness the bill signing. The governor briefly interrupted his prepared remarks as Cannon was forcibly removed from the building by officers. … Several voting organizations filed a federal lawsuit to stop the bill Thursday night, saying it creates “unjustifiable burdens” especially on minority, young, poor and disabled voters. The lawsuit by The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and Rise opposes absentee ID requirements, drop box limits, provisional ballot invalidations, and food and drink bans.

Full Article: Sweeping changes to Georgia elections signed into law

Georgia’s sweeping elections overhaul faces new legal challenge | Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A coalition of advocacy groups on Sunday filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Republican-backed voting restrictions signed into law last week by Gov. Brian Kemp, the second legal challenge aiming to derail the far-reaching new elections overhaul. The complaint calls Senate Bill 202 the “culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color” in response to Democratic victories in November and January. It asks a judge to declare the law unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. “Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voters of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color in order to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia,” the lawsuit read. “In other words, these officials are using racial discrimination as a means of achieving a partisan end.”

Full Article: Georgia’s sweeping elections overhaul faces new legal challenge

Georgia: Judge may unseal Fulton County absentee ballots for fraud investigation | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A judge may unseal absentee ballots in Fulton County so a government watchdog can investigate allegations of voting fraud in the November election. A lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court contends that fraudulent ballots were cast and other irregularities occurred as workers counted ballots at State Farm Arena on election night. Those allegations were investigated and dismissed by the secretary of state’s office. Nonetheless, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero — who is overseeing the case — said he’s inclined to order the ballots to be unsealed and reviewed by experts hired by Garland Favorito, a voting-integrity advocate. At a hearing Monday, Amero sought a detailed plan for maintaining the secrecy and security of the ballots, which — by state law — are under seal in the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office. “We want to do this in such a way that dispels rumors and disinformation and sheds light,” Amero said at the hearing. “The devil’s in the details.” Favorito’s case is part of a wave of lawsuits that have alleged fraud or misconduct in the November presidential election. Some sought to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia, while others sought to change election rules for the January U.S. Senate runoffs.

Full Article: Judge may unseal Fulton absentee ballots for fraud investigation

Georgia official clarifies earlier report on Trump call to a Georgia investigator | Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia elections officials said their description of a much-scrutinized phone call between Donald Trump and a top investigator wasn’t meant to be presented as a “word-for-word transcript” after a recording of the call revealed the former president was misquoted. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that the office’s initial report about the conversation between Trump and Frances Watson, the chief investigator, relied on Watson’s recollection. A recording of the conversation, located on a trash folder in Watson’s email account during an open records request, was released last week. It revealed that Trump told Watson she would find “dishonesty” if she scrutinized absentee ballots in Fulton County and that she had the “most important job in the country right now.” “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson. Earlier reporting by the AJC and other news organizations misquoted the exact words that Trump used to urge Watson to act based on Fuchs’ account of the conversation. The former president did not urge Watson to “find the fraud” and did not promise she would become a “national hero.” “After hearing the tape, it’s clear that her recollection accurately portrayed the president’s assertions that there was fraud to uncover and that she would receive praise for doing so,” Fuchs said.

Full Article: Georgia official clarifies earlier report on Trump call to a Georgia investigator

Georgia: Trump asked election investigator to find the ‘right answer’ | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Donald Trump asked Georgia’s lead elections investigator to uncover evidence of wrongdoing during an investigation of absentee ballot voter signatures in December that later found no fraud, according to audio of a phone call made public Wednesday. Trump told Frances Watson, chief investigator for the secretary of state’s office, that he hoped her investigation would help show that he had won reelection in the presidential race. Recounts and audits of election results found that Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump by about 12,000 votes in Georgia. Channel 2 Action News and The Wall Street Journal first reported the six-minute recording of the call from Dec. 23, the day after Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, made a surprise visit to Georgia to observe the investigation. “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,” Trump told Watson. The release of the call comes as a Fulton County grand jury this month is reviewing whether Trump committed election fraud in Georgia. Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, urging him to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s win. The December investigation of 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County didn’t reveal a single fraudulent ballot.

Full Article: Trump called Georgia investigator during audit of absentee ballots

Georgia Republicans Take Aim at Role of Black Churches in Elections | Nick Corasaniti and Jim Rutenberg/The New York Times

Sundays are always special at the St. Philip Monumental A.M.E. church. But in October, the pews are often more packed, the sermon a bit more urgent and the congregation more animated, and eager for what will follow: piling into church vans and buses — though some prefer to walk — and heading to the polls. Voting after Sunday church services, known colloquially as “souls to the polls,” is a tradition in Black communities across the country, and Pastor Bernard Clarke, a minister since 1991, has marshaled the effort at St. Philip for five years. His sermons on those Sundays, he said, deliver a message of fellowship, responsibility and reverence. “It is an opportunity for us to show our voting rights privilege as well as to fulfill what we know that people have died for, and people have fought for,” Mr. Clarke said. Now, Georgia Republicans are proposing new restrictions on weekend voting that could severely curtail one of the Black church’s central roles in civic engagement and elections. Stung by losses in the presidential race and two Senate contests, the state party is moving quickly to push through these limits and a raft of other measures aimed directly at suppressing the Black turnout that helped Democrats prevail in the critical battleground state. “The only reason you have these bills is because they lost,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 A.M.E. churches in Georgia. “What makes it even more troubling than that is there is no other way you can describe this other than racism, and we just need to call it what it is.’’

Full Article: In Georgia, Republicans Take Aim at Role of Black Churches in Elections – The New York Times

Georgia Senate votes to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting | Mark Niesse and David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Senate passed a bill Monday to roll back no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID, which would create new obstacles for voters after Republicans lost elections for president and the U.S. Senate. The legislation would reduce the availability of absentee voting, restricting it to those who are at least 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The Senate approved the bill on a party-line 29-20 vote, a one-vote majority of the chamber’s 56 senators required by the Georgia Constitution for legislation to pass. Democrats unified against the voting limitations over three hours of passionate debate, saying the restrictions would especially harm Black voters after struggles for ballot access during the civil rights movement. Four Republican senators excused themselves, along with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Senate’s presiding officer who opposed the bill but doesn’t get a vote. The bill now advances to the state House of Representatives.

Full Article: Restrictions on absentee voting pass Georgia Senate

Georgia County Employees Saved State’s Elections, But At What Personal Cost? | Christopher Alston/WABE

Deidre Holden has been Paulding County election director for 17 years and has lived in the county since she was 3. Holden remembers where she was when she first learned the pandemic was going to drastically alter her job. “I was actually in Nashville, Tennessee, when Secretary [Brad] Raffensperger made the announcement that we were going to postpone the election. And when that happens and you hear that, your wheels start turning on how you can make that work,” Holden said. County election directors like Holden earned praise for handling the strains of conducting a heated presidential election during a pandemic. While the stress has led some to resign and others are considering it, some are holding steadfast in their positions. The government response to the pandemic had an immediate effect on election departments because it meant quickly rescheduling the presidential preference primary originally slated for March 24 of last year. Like many of her colleagues, Holden had to deal with a drop in poll workers, and older workers who know elections best were the first to go because of their vulnerability to the virus.

Full Article: County Employees Saved Georgia’s Elections, But At What Personal Cost? | 90.1 FM WABE

Georgia: Why the G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Would Hit Black People Hard | Richard Fausset, Nick Corasaniti and Mark Leibovich/The New York Times

After record turnout flipped Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control the state Legislature are moving swiftly to implement a raft of new restrictions on voting access, mounting one of the biggest challenges to voting rights in a major battleground state following the 2020 election. Two bills, one passed by the House on Monday and another that could pass the Senate this week, seek to alter foundational elements of voting in Georgia, which supported President Biden in November and a pair of Democratic senators in January — narrow victories attributable in part to the array of voting options in the state. The Republican legislation would undermine pillars of voting access by ending automatic voter registration, banning drop boxes for mail ballots and eliminating the broad availability of absentee voting. The bills would restrict early voting on the weekends, limiting the longstanding civic tradition of “Souls to the Polls” in which Black voters cast ballots on Sunday after church services. Taken together, the new barriers would have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of the state’s population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Black voters were a major force in Democratic success in recent elections, with roughly 88 percent voting for Mr. Biden and more than 90 percent voting for Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January runoff elections, according to exit polls.

Full Article: Why the Georgia G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Would Hit Black People Hard – The New York Times

Georgia Takes Center Stage in Battle Over Voting Rights | Richard Fausset, Nick Corasaniti and Mark Leibovich/The New York Times

After record turnout flipped Georgia blue for the first time in decades, Republicans who control the state Legislature are moving swiftly to implement a raft of new restrictions on voting access, mounting one of the biggest challenges to voting rights in a major battleground state following the 2020 election. Two bills, one passed by the House on Monday and another that could pass the Senate this week, seek to alter foundational elements of voting in Georgia, which supported President Biden in November and a pair of Democratic senators in January — narrow victories attributable in part to the array of voting options in the state. The Republican legislation would undermine pillars of voting access by ending automatic voter registration, banning drop boxes for mail ballots and eliminating the broad availability of absentee voting. The bills would restrict early voting on the weekends, limiting the longstanding civic tradition of “Souls to the Polls” in which Black voters cast ballots on Sunday after church services. Taken together, the new barriers would have an outsize impact on Black voters, who make up roughly one-third of the state’s population and vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Black voters were a major force in Democratic success in recent elections, with roughly 88 percent voting for Mr. Biden and more than 90 percent voting for Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January runoff elections, according to exit polls.

Full Article: Georgia Takes Center Stage in Battle Over Voting Rights – The New York Times

Georgia bills would replace bipartisan county election boards | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With a quick vote last week, the Georgia General Assembly passed the first bill to break up a county’s volunteer, bipartisan elections board. It’s the beginning of legislation to remove equal political representation over local election offices across Georgia. Other county election boards could soon face the same fate as Morgan County’s, where replacement election board members would instead be chosen by the mostly Republican County Commission. Bills to change local elections management are being debated along with sweeping legislation to require ID for absentee voting, restrict drop boxes and limit weekend early voting in Georgia. These measures follow a two-month effort by Donald Trump and his Republican supporters to overturn the presidential election results despite state officials saying there was no evidence of widespread fraud. So far, legislators from Morgan and at least two more counties are pursuing the removal of bipartisan election boards, whose members were appointed by each party with a nonpartisan chairperson to break ties. Lawmakers are also considering similar changes in metro Atlanta and other counties, creating the possibility of politicized local elections oversight.

Full Article: Georgia bills would replace bipartisan county election boards

Georgia Counties Sue Trump for Expenses From His Failed Voting Fraud Suit | Aimee Sachs/Courthouse News Service

Two Atlanta-area counties filed lawsuits against former President Donald Trump this week, seeking legal fees in his campaign’s failed voting fraud lawsuit against state election officials. Cobb County filed a motion in Fulton County Superior Court on Monday, followed by DeKalb County filing a similar motion against Trump and Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer. Cobb County’s Director of Registration and Elections Janine Eveler and DeKalb County’s Erica Hamilton were among a dozen of others named in the original complaint, which was filed in Fulton County Superior Court in December. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger was also listed as a defendant. The Trump campaign filed similar legal actions that failed in several other states. “Given the number of failed lawsuits filed by the former President and his campaign, Petitioners apparently believed that they could filed their baseless and legally deficient actions with impunity, with no regard for the costs extracted from the taxpayers’ coffers of the consequences to the democratic foundations of our country,” the motion states. The Georgia lawsuit alleged widespread voter fraud in the Peach State and challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election that Democrat Joe Biden won with the help of voters of Cobb County and DeKalb County. Biden won Cobb County with 56.35% of the vote, and in DeKalb County he received 83.12% of the vote. A statewide recount confirmed Biden’s victory.

Full Article: Georgia Counties Sue Trump for Expenses From His Failed Voting Fraud Suit – Courthouse News Service

Georgia bill clears Senate that would let state take over local election boards | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would allow the state to take over local election offices that fail to meet standards. Senate Bill 89 would allow the State Election Board to establish criteria for “low-performing” election offices and, if they don’t improve, to replace the local officials with new election superintendents indefinitely. Supporters said the bill would mean more support for local election officials, as well as accountability for those — such as Fulton County — that have repeatedly had election problems. “The state has come down on Fulton County numerous times, but we still see systemic problems,” said Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell. Critics said the state already has the authority to investigate and hold local officials accountable. They say the proposal would usurp local control of elections guaranteed in the Georgia Constitution. “What this bill is really trying to get to is removing (local) election superintendents,” said Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta. The measure passed by a vote of 35-18. SB 89 is one of a slew of bills that seek to reshape voting in Georgia in the wake of a 2020 election that confirmed Georgia’s status as a national partisan battleground. The state helped deliver the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden and flipped control of the U.S. Senate.

Full Article: Georgia bill clears Senate that would let state take over local election boards

Georgia voters confront lawmakers over Sunday and absentee voting | Mark Niesse and David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An expansive bill that would end Sunday voting, limit drop boxes and require ID for absentee ballots moved closer to a vote after a Georgia House elections committee listened to nearly three hours of public comments Monday. Voting rights advocates told lawmakers the bill would reduce turnout and create new limitations on voting without doing much to improve election security. Skeptics of Georgia’s elections said they’re suspicious of absentee voting and encouraged legislators to pass stricter laws that would ensure only legitimate voters cast absentee ballots. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.3 million Georgia voters cast absentee ballots, but election officials, backed up by multiple recounts, have said there’s no evidence that widespread fraud occurred during the presidential election. The House Election Integrity Committee could vote on the sweeping legislation, House Bill 531, as soon as Tuesday, potentially setting it up for a vote in the full House of Representatives within days. Several people told lawmakers that restrictions on Sunday voting and absentee ballots would disproportionately affect Black voters who participate in ”Souls to the Polls” events after church during early voting. “Voter confidence is improved through community conversation and engagement, not through barriers to access to the voting booth,” said the Rev. James Woodall, president for the Georgia NAACP.

Full Argticle: Georgia lawmakers to decide on limits to Sunday and absentee voting

Georgia Republicans File Sweeping Elections Bill That Limits Early, Absentee Voting | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Republicans in the Georgia House have released an omnibus elections bill that proposes tougher restrictions on both absentee and in-person early voting, among other sweeping changes to election laws after a controversial 2020 election. HB 531, filed by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) was introduced directly into the Special Committee on Election Integrity on Thursday, and the text of the bill was made available about an hour before the 3 p.m. hearing. Section 12 of the bill would provide “uniformity” to the three-week early voting period, Fleming said, requiring all counties to hold early voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for three weeks before the election, plus a mandatory 9-to-5 period of voting the second Saturday before the election. It would allow counties to extend hours to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but would prohibit counties from holding early voting any other days — including Sunday voting popular in larger metro counties and a high turnout day for Black voters that hold “souls to the polls” events.

Full Article: Georgia Republicans File Sweeping Elections Bill That Limits Early, Absentee Voting | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Senate committee votes for absentee voting restrictions | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bills requiring an excuse and an ID number for absentee voting in Georgia cleared their first committee Wednesday, creating new restrictions after last year’s presidential election. A Senate subcommittee voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the bills, which now advance to the full Ethics Committee. Georgia law has allowed any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot since 2005, but Senate Bill 71 would limit absentee voting to people who are over 75, have a physical disability or are out of town. Democrats said the bill would stop people from voting from home if they’re worried about their health, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID isn’t choosy,” said state Sen. Sally Harrell, a Democrat from Atlanta. “We are all vulnerable. We don’t know which person this virus is going to kill.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, said voters should have to provide a reason to vote outside a polling place, as they had to before the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s made it available to everyone 16 years ago.

Full Article: Georgia Senate committee votes for absentee voting restrictions