With a vote of 97-72, the Georgia state House on Monday passed a bill supported by Republicans that would roll back voting access.
House Bill 531 requires a photo ID for absentee voting, limits weekend early voting days, restricts ballot drop box locations, and sets an earlier deadline to request an absentee ballot. The measure now heads to the state Senate for more debate. State Rep. Barry Fleming (R), the bill's chief sponsor, said it is "designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system."
Democrats and civil rights organizations disagree, arguing that it would make it much harder for people to vote, especially voters of color. State Rep. Renitta Shannon (D) said it is "pathetically obvious" that the bill is in response to Georgia voters turning out in record numbers for November's presidential election, making the state blue for the first time in decades. Voters also showed up in January for the Senate runoffs, when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated the Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
This gave Republicans the message "that they were in a political death spiral," Shannon said. "And now they are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins."
Demonstrators marched outside the Capitol on Monday to protest the bill, which the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, called one of the "most egregious, dangerous, and most expensive voter suppression acts in this entire nation, rolling back years of hardball progress and renewing our own reputation for discrimination."