On Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill to enact restrictions on voting. This includes restricting absentee voting in certain cases, cutting back on early voting hours, preventing county elections offices from receiving grant funding directly, shortening the state’s runoff election period, taking away the secretary of state’s role as chair of the State Election Board, and requiring counties to add more staff and equipment in larger precincts.
The bill passed 97-72 with opposition from progressives. One section of the bill mandates that all counties must have the same early voting dates and times: three weeks of Monday- through- Friday voting, one mandatory Saturday and then one additional Saturday or Sunday during the first weekend
Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Black Democrat and the longest-serving member in the chamber, said that the bill discriminated against Black voters who use the second Sunday for “souls to the polls” events.
“It takes away the ability to have uniformity in every county,” he said. “For example, if a county chooses the first Sunday, the situation will be extremely confusing for county residents with voting closed on that Saturday. An avalanche of misinformation will follow regarding when voting happens on weekends. Confusion deters voting, which brings about voter suppression.”’
Republicans in the chamber say that the measure is necessary to restore confidence in elections after Trump lost in Georgia and made false claims about voting fraud.
Rep. Renitta Shannon said, “Now, [these lawmakers] are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins.”
Sources: AP News 3/1/21; NPR 3/1/21