COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Georgia lawmakers passed an elections bill that will clamp down on voting access across the state and give state officials more power over local elections.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill Thursday, putting tighter restrictions on Georgia’s elections process.
“It is by design meant to actually make voting harder,” said Columbus State University political science professor, Jacob Holt. “The goal is to decrease voting. I would say that all these things would cause, although it would be small, would discourage some people from voting.”
Georgia is just the latest state to make changes to it’s voting laws.
“There’s been hundreds of bills all throughout the country,” said University of Georgia political science professor, Charles Bullock, III. “Georgia is the first state to do this. So, what happens is Georgia law may then become the model. Other states that are thinking about this matter will say, well lets rather than reinvent the wheel, we’ll go with what Georgia did. Is that something we could apply to our state, and tweak it a little bit here and there.”
The new bill requires copies of IDs to be submitted with absentee ballots. It limits the number of ballot drop boxes counties can put out, a allows the state legislature to take over the power from local elections officials, and makes it further illegal to give out things like water or food to people standing in line to vote.
“It requires that every county to have two Saturdays that you can vote early, and you can have up to two Sundays to vote early,” Bullock explained.
It also expands early voting for primary and general elections. The old law mandates only one Saturday of early voting. While shortening the period between elections and runoffs from nine weeks to four weeks, counties would be able to start early voting ASAP. The bill only requires it to be offered Monday through Friday the week before the election.
Bullock thinks the bill will increase voter turnout for both Republicans and Democrats.
“So, I think both parties, from a points aspect of this, and say come on team. You need to make sure you go out and vote,” said Bullock.
According to Bullock, Republican and Democrats have their own take of what Senate Bill 202 really means.
Bullock adds he thinks the bill is an attempt to restore Republican voter confidence, while Democrats will view the bill as an act of voter suppression.
President Joe Biden calls the voting changes “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” to which Kemp responded it expands voter access and ensures election integrity.