On the heels of the state’s disastrous 2020 presidential election, the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill531 on Monday by a vote of 97-72. It now goes to the state Senate for further debate. The 66-page bill would move Georgia closer to rebuilding voters’ confidence in the state’s election system by reforming several critical election rules.
If passed, HB531 would, in an effort to make the state’s elections free of external influences, remove the secretary of state from his role as chair of the State Election Board and prevent county elections offices from receiving direct grant funding. Additionally, election superintendents and boards of registrars would not be allowed to accept any “funding, grants, or gifts from any source other than from the governing authority of the county or municipality, the State of Georgia, or the federal government.”
The bill would require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the timeframe voters have to request an absentee ballot, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be located and when they could be accessed, limit early voting hours on weekends, shorten Georgia’s runoff election period, and require counties to add more staff, equipment or polling places in large precincts with long voter lines.
HB531 would establish numerous voter ID requirements surrounding mail-in absentee ballots, which, along with voter machine irregularities, contributed significantly to election fraud claims in the state. Under the new bill, voters would be able to request an absentee ballot up to 78 days before the election (right now, it is 180 days), and the returned ballot envelope would have to possess the voter’s driver’s license number, state ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number.