Georgia House Passes Omnibus Election Reform Bill

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.

March 02, 2021

The 66-page bill, HB 513 (pdf) 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, R-Harlem, the main sponsor of the HB 513 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.

Separately, the GOP-majority Senate on Feb. 23 introduced its own version of an omnibus election reform bill, SB 241 (pdf) 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.

Absentee Ballots

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 num…

Other Requirements

To help reduce Georgia’s runoff period to four weeks, instead of nine weeks as experienced by the state in the Jan. 2 runoff elections for two Senate seats, military and overseas voters would be offered ran…

The HB 531 will no longer count any provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct—a change from the current law, which stipulates that even if the ballot was cast in the wrong precinct, election officials can count the votes for races in which the voter was entitled to vote.

Per the bill, ballots would be required to be printed on “security paper that incorporates features which can be used to authenticate the ballot as an official ballot but which do not make the ballot identifiable to a particular elector.

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