Georgia House passes election reform

Georgia’s House of Representatives passed an omnibus bill that would reform a range of election rules, including over absentee voting, voter ID for absentee voting, time limits for voting, and more.

The 66-page bill, HB 531 passed the Republican majority chamber on a party line vote of 97-72 and is headed to the state Senate for further debate.

State Rep. Barry Fleming, a Republican, the main sponsor of the HB 531 bill, said that the proposal was designed to restore voters’ confidence in Georgia’s election system following the 2020 presidential election, which saw numerous allegations of voting irregularities and allegations of election fraud according to the Epoch Times.

Separately, the GOP-majority Senate on Feb. 23 introduced its own version of an omnibus election reform bill, SB 241 that has some overlap with HB 531. One difference is that the Senate bill would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, something that has been allowed in Georgia since 2005, whereas the House bill would still allow no-excuse absentee voting.

The proposed HB 531, first introduced on Feb. 18, sets up multiple requirements for absentee ballots, including a number of voter identification requirements in replacement of the state’s current signature match process.

Voters would have to submit their driver’s license number, their state identification card, or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the ballot envelope. If the voter lacks a government ID, the bill requires a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.

Under the new bill, voters would be able to request an absentee ballot up to 78 days before the election, instead of the current 180 days. The absentee ballots and early votes must be received by 11 days prior to the election day.

The government, including election officials, would not be allowed to mail out unsolicited applications for absentee ballots to voters under the bill. Only authorized relatives or persons signing as helping a voter who is illiterate or physically disabled may apply on behalf of another for an absentee ballot application .

Election officials also must not send out absentee ballots until four weeks prior to the election. Click here for more from the Epoch Times.

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