New Georgia election bill passes House over Democrats’ objections

The GBI would gain the power to launch election investigations and subpoenas, a job currently done primarily by investigators from the secretary of state’s office. After the 2020 election, the GBI assisted investigations and found no fraud when it reviewed allegations of counterfeit ballots, ballot signature mismatches, and ballot collection .

“If we can’t trust the highest law enforcement in the state, who should we trust?” asked State Representative James Burchett, a Waycross Republican. “Do you want Cyber ​​Ninjas to come here and work on the elections? It’s not plausible,” referring to the company that conducted a flawed election audit in Arizona.

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The legislation, House Bill 1464, builds on last year’s sweeping Georgia voting overhaul, which limited ballot boxes, required more voter ID for mail-in voting and allowed voter takeover. State of County Election Offices.

Democrats have said greater police involvement in the election could intimidate voters and make them fearful of voting.

“The use of the threat of law enforcement in elections is not something new and is not conjecture,” said state Rep. Derek Mallow, a Democrat from Savannah. “Members of the majority party are stepping up their efforts to suppress voters. This is another attack on the right to vote.

By preventing outside money in elections, proponents of the legislation said elections would be less vulnerable to resource inequality. In the 2020 election, county election offices received about $43 million in grants from nonprofits, largely from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, an organization backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. .

Legend

A group of protesters sit on the south side of the Georgia Capitol waiting for House Bill 1464 to come to the ground. The bill allows anyone to inspect the original ballot and empowers the GBI to intervene in fraud investigations. Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A group of protesters sit on the south side of the Georgia Capitol waiting for House Bill 1464 to come to the ground.  The bill allows anyone to inspect the original ballot and empowers the GBI to intervene in fraud investigations.  Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

callout arrowLegend

A group of protesters sit on the south side of the Georgia Capitol waiting for House Bill 1464 to come to the ground. The bill allows anyone to inspect the original ballot and empowers the GBI to intervene in fraud investigations. Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voting rights organizations said the legislation’s funding limitations would hurt election offices that needed extra funding, especially amid record turnout and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Any attempt to donating money for the elections would be subject to the approval of the Republican-dominated state Board of Elections.

“As local county officials work hard to prepare for another unprecedented election, this bill places undue pressure on their ability to do their jobs,” said Vyanti Joseph of the Asian American Advocacy Fund. “Furthermore, HB 1464 perpetuates a whole new level of intimidation by giving the Georgia Bureau of Investigation unprecedented authority to investigate election workers and voters.”

Additionally, the bill would allow anyone to examine paper ballots if they want to verify the results or look for errors. Under current law, original ballots can only be unsealed by order of a judge. Digital images of ballot papers were already made public last year.

Other parts of the bill require paperwork and seals when election officials move ballots, make it a crime to threaten violence against election officials, and require fewer voting machines on Election Day.

The legislation is now before the state Senate for final votes before the end of this year’s legislative session on April 4.

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