Following a contentious election cycle in Georgia, the state’s GOP-led Senate voted on Monday to eliminate no-excuse absentee balloting for most voters in the state.
The bill, which passed 29-20 in the Senate, goes to the Georgia House where it is expected to pass.
The bill would continue to permit absentee voting for those ages 65 and over, the disabled, those observing a religious holiday and those who are out of town on Election Day. It is likely no coincidence that those over the age of 65 supported Republicans in the last election, according to CNN exit poll data. According to the exit poll, Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden 56-44 among the state’s 65 and over population. Biden won the state by just 1%.
The attempts to curtail early voting comes after Biden won six states previously won by Trump in 2016. While Trump decried mail-in voting, Democrats promoted early voting to their supporters, boosting Biden to victory in swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada, while picking up GOP strongholds like Georgia and Arizona.
“These bills in GA, AZ, & NH do more than restrict voting,” said Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia and has since campaigned for expanded voting access. “They also aim to steal power from local boards and state elections officials who did their lawful jobs and instead consolidate power in partisan state legislatures that supported the Big Lie."
Whether the bill gets the ultimate signature from Gov. Brian Kemp remains unknown, but he was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying he supports election reforms, including mandating that absentee ballots include a photocopy of a state-issued ID.
Last month, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced there were 35 cases of election fraud that resulted in criminal charges, out of more than 9 million votes cast between the general election and January Senate runoff. A number of the charges were for felons attempting to register or non-citizens attempting to register.
Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation that would call on states to expand mail-in and no-excuse absentee voting while eliminating photo ID requirements. The legislation has the backing of Biden.