Georgia Legislature considers bill to ‘undermine the absentee voting system created by then-Governor Sonny Perdue’ in 2005

After Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called for restrictions on absentee voting, Sen. Jason Anavitarte of Dallas, Georgia filed SB 29, which would create new barriers to the method of voting used by more than 1 million Georgians last fall. 

A coalition of voting rights advocates will hold a press conference on SB 29 at 10am today, Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Zoom registration link is here. The Georgia Election Protection Coalition includes Georgia Votes, All Voting is Local-Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters of Georgia, Georgia NAACP, The New Georgia Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Statement by Common Cause Executive Director Aunna Dennis

SB 29 isn’t just a solution in search of a problem, it’s a thinly-disguised effort to create huge barriers to voting for those who rely on Georgia’s absentee ballot system.

Let’s put the bill in context. This past November, we heard a flood of inflammatory claims made by some who didn’t like the outcome of the presidential election. More than 60 lawsuits later, we’re still dealing with the fallout of all those unsubstantiated claims – as some legislators are pushing bills to solve “problems” that don’t exist.

Secretary of State Raffensperger’s office went to great lengths to demonstrate the integrity of our elections in November. One of the audits he authorized was an examination of absentee ballots voted in Cobb County; and that audit found exactly zero instances of improper voting.  

Now, even though there was no problem, some legislators are proposing a “solution” – requiring voters to send copies of their photo IDs along with their ballot applications and voted ballots.

This bill would undermine the absentee voting system created by then-Governor Sonny Perdue and a Republican- led legislature, back in 2005. That system has been working well for voters in both parties for 15 years

But because the system has been questioned by people unhappy with the results of the 2020 presidential election, the sponsors of SB 29 want to create obstacles that will discourage its use in the future.

How is this likely to affect our state’s older voters? Many people who have given up driving vote by mail, instead of in-person. Nationally, almost one-in-five voters over age 65 do not have a driver’s license or similar identification. How many of Georgia’s senior citizens will be forced to give up voting, because the obstacle of getting new identification is just too high?

How is this likely to affect voters who don’t have easy access to copying devices? Those who don’t have home offices with computers, scanners and printers? How many of Georgia’s blue collar voters will find it difficult or impossible to vote by mail, because the logistics of finding a copying machine don’t fit into their schedules? 

How much is it going to cost to upgrade the state’s absentee ballot request portal to include the uploading of ID images? 

How is this going to affect the half-million Georgians living in “broadband deserts” without access to high-speed internet? Are they going to be able to email or upload copies of their drivers’ licenses? 

Remember, Georgia’s systems are set up to be secure and have multiple failsafes to prevent improper voting. Elections officials double-check absentee ballot applications and returned ballots against the voter rolls. Elections officials perform signature verification on both the application and the outside envelope of voted ballots. Voters with internet access are able to track their ballots online. The system is set up to be secure — and it works. The Cobb County audit proved that.  

Yet because some people didn’t like the results of the past election, now the sponsors want to create new barriers to voting absentee.

Georgians should see through this scheme. It’s not just a solution in search of a problem — it’s an effort by politicians to disenfranchise voters they believe will vote for “the other party.”

Our absentee voting system was created by Republicans. It has worked well for 15 years. 

Georgia’s legislators should vote against SB 29.