UPDATED 2:25 PM PT – Wednesday, February 24, 2021
The Georgia State Senate passed an important measure to prevent voting fraud with absentee ballots. The bill was sent to the state House for consideration after it passed the state Senate in a 35-to-18 vote Tuesday.
The measure seeks to require Georgia’s voters to submit a valid photo ID in order to cast an absentee ballot in the state. The acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, a state ID card or any approved federal forms of identification.
Georgia Democrats opposed the bill and alleged so-called “voter suppression.” Critics argued the measure would make it difficult for low-wage earners to obtain a license. Sponsors of the bill, however, cited current Georgia law that bars the state from profiting off of voter IDs.
“Again this is just a common-sense measure to adjust our current process for requesting an absentee ballot — not casting the ballot — to reflect the web portal that works so well. And to get the Board of Elections people out of the middle of verifying elections when they received over a million absentee ballots,” state Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry) said. “So it’s an efficiency measure and a security measure. This is not about disenfranchising anybody.”
Proponents said the bill is simply a way to keep current mail-in-ballot voting laws consistent as Georgia voters are required to show a government-issued license at the polls. The changes came as the state saw a 20 percent increase in absentee ballots during the 2020 election season as a result of the pandemic.
Additionally, the state Senate weighed three other election bills that proponents said will restore voter confidence. The bills include measures that would shorten the window for absentee voting and require voters to explain why they are requesting an absentee ballot.