Today, in a matter of just hours, both the House and Senate approved a substitute version of SB 202, an anti-voter ‘omnibus’ that allows the highly-partisan state Legislature to appoint a quorum of the State Election Board, and allows state takeover of county elections offices. Both chambers’ votes were along party lines.
Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign the bill at 6:30pm today.
Statement of Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia
If Republicans thought this was ‘the right thing to do’ – they wouldn’t have done it this way.
If they thought SB 202 was ‘good public policy’ – they wouldn’t have rammed it through the General Assembly in only six hours.
If they thought SB 202 was ‘in the public interest’ – they would have made sure the public had a chance to learn about it.
Instead, both House and Senate leadership forced the ‘omnibus’ anti-voter bill through to the Governor’s desk in just hours, on completely party-line votes.
The bill consolidates legislative leaders’ control over Georgia’s State Election Board. It allows state takeover of county elections offices, which includes the ability to certify future elections – and the ability to not certify them.
This isn’t a hypothetical concern. In the wake of the presidential election, several states – including Georgia – saw efforts to overrule the choice of voters. That was not possible, in 2020, because of our election laws. But now those laws will be changing, in ways that will amplify partisan interests and cement partisan control over our elections infrastructure.
Governor Brian Kemp will be an obvious beneficiary, in his 2022 run for reelection.
It can’t be a coincidence that the counties mentioned as candidates for state takeover have significant populations of Black and Brown voters.
In a functioning democracy, elections aren’t run by a single political party.
In a functioning democracy, legislation that affects voting rights isn’t passed and signed in the space of six hours.
This bill is an insult to Georgia’s voters. Set the rhetoric aside, and look at what it does: it allows the highly partisan state legislature to take over the state’s elections.
Those are supposed to be our elections – the voters’ elections. ‘We the people’ are supposed to have the final say – not party leadership.
There will undoubtedly be legal challenges to this bill – and there should be.
The right of ‘the people’ to determine our own government should be sacrosanct.
Instead, today, Republicans in Georgia’s House and Senate showed us exactly how little they value our votes.