Yesterday, House Republicans gutted a 2-page bill passed by the Senate and replaced it with a 94-page version that was announced only an hour before the House Special Committee on Election Integrity met to consider it. A day later, the substitute bill is not yet available on the legislative website, despite the fact that the Committee has started its public hearing on the measure.
Common Cause Georgia opposes the bill because it “burdens access to the ballot for valid Georgia voters, disproportionately voters of color and low income voters, and it strips local election authorities of tools they need to effectively administer elections,” according to Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis.
Among the provisions included in the newest “omnibus” bill is a prohibition on counting out-of-precinct provisional ballots, similar to the Arizona law heard by the US Supreme Court two weeks ago. During oral arguments in that case, a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party characterized the restriction as helpful to Republicans, while allowing out-of-precinct ballots to be counted “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
During the 2020 election cycle, Common Cause Georgia helped about 6,000 voters to “cure” their provisional ballots so they could be counted; in most instances, the voter was required to vote provisionally because they had shown up at the wrong precinct.
“There are many reasons a voter may be at the wrong precinct, including inadequate voter education or notice, discrepancies between early voting locations and last minute or poorly advertised polling place closures or reassignments,” Dennis testified. “Georgia saw significant polling place changes during the 2020 election cycle due to the pandemic, there were counties that experienced more than 90 polling place changes.”
“To be clear, there are other provisions of this omnibus legislation that are problematic as well, Dennis said. “This bill cuts at every aspect of the voting process, making it more difficult, especially for Georgia’s most vulnerable voters, to cast a ballot and have it count. Accordingly, Common Cause Georgia urges the committee to vote NO on S.B. 202.”
Read her full testimony here.