Georgia Senate Passes Election Reform, Including Voter ID For Absentee Ballots

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

The Georgia State Senate, which is led by the Republican Party, has made it a lot tougher for anyone who may want to cheat in future elections.

With a vote of 38 – 19, with all Democrats opposed, the Republican Senate voted to require photo identification for absentee voters, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported.

The Republican-controlled Georgia Senate approved four elections bills Tuesday, the first of many expected in the legislative session following Democratic victories in November and January. The biggest change would see absentee by mail applications verified using a form of ID.

The measures are much less extreme and restrictive than others proposed by some lawmakers that have pushed false claims of election fraud, though Democrats objected to three of them for various reasons.

SB 67 adds an ID requirement to paper requests for absentee ballots, and would require either a driver’s license number, state ID number or photocopy of a photo ID that would be needed for in-person voting. An online portal, created by the secretary of state’s office last year and codified under this bill, already requires that information for a request. This would also eliminate the controversial signature matching procedure currently in place to verify applications but would leave it in place for verifying the actual ballot.

“It’s not about disenfranchising voters, it’s not about overly burdening the electorate,” Majority Caucus Vice Chair Sen. Larry Walker said. “It is about efficiency and security and election integrity and allowing the Georgia public to have confidence in the vote.”

Democrat Sen. David Lucas spoke of the bill calling it “malarkey,” a favorite word of Joe Biden.

“You’re going to spend taxpayer money trying to defend it,” he said. “I will not go back home and tell those who vote that I took away the right for you to vote.”

Republicans argued that the measures that they passed address the concerns that many of their voters have after the 2020 elections that saw Joe Biden and two Democrat senators win the traditionally Republican state.

“Recently, many of our citizens have expressed a lack of faith and integrity in our current election systems,” a statement from the Senate Republican Caucus said. “We have heard these concerns voiced by many – and addressing these concerns has been at the forefront of our legislative efforts this year to promote the good of the state.”

Democrat Atlanta Rep. Nikema Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, railed against the legislation, which was predictable.

“[The] Georgia GOP is hell-bent on suppressing the vote because they can’t win when Georgians vote,” she said. “If they wanted to restore confidence in elections, they would work with Democrats to pass common-sense legislation, not help fuel the far-right’s false election fraud narratives.”

This is often the Democrat argument for not having voter identification. But one could ask them, if all of your votes are legal then why are you terrified of verifying that?

Who could voter identification harm? If a voter is a legal citizen how could proving that when they vote be a deterrent to them?

“The goal of the bill … is an attempt, to the extent that we can, to begin to remedy some of those [elections] problems … and try to bring the left and the right back to a position where they have confidence overall in our election system,” Rep. Barry Fleming, who sponsored the bill, said.

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