Georgia governor signs election integrity overhaul months before 2024 contest

 May 9, 2024

Georgia Republican governor Brian Kemp has tweaked the rules of his state's elections, just months before the high-stakes presidential race in which Georgia is expected to again play a pivotal role.

The new laws would make it easier to disqualify ineligible voters, among other changes, including a new deadline for voting by mail.

Voting overhaul in Georgia

Senate Bill 189 requires all absentee ballots to be counted within an hour of polls closing.

Ineligible voters can be removed from the rolls as soon as 45 days before an election, and there are new reasons allowed for challenging a voter's registration.

Another important change would make it easier for third-party candidates to get on the ballot in Georgia. That could work to the advantage of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is seen as a possible spoiler by both Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Governor Kemp came under fire from Biden in 2021 for signing an election reform that banned handing out snacks at polling places and permitted Georgians to make unlimited challenges to a voter's eligibility. At the time, Biden compared Georgia's new election rules to Jim Crow.

Attack on democracy?

The rules of elections remain fiercely disputed nearly four years after a massive shift to vote-by-mail during the COVID pandemic.

Democrats have often cast efforts to limit cheating, such as identification requirements and limits on absentee voting, as attacks on democracy.

The Stacey Abrams-founded "voting rights" group Fair Fight blasted Georgia's SB 189 as a "voter suppression bill that emboldens right-wing activists in their efforts to kick Black and brown voters off the rolls.”

“By signing SB 189 to become law, Brian Kemp delivered a gift to MAGA election deniers,” the group said in a statement.

The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has pledged to challenge the overhaul, attacking it as a “step back for voters’ rights and voting access.”

The group warned the new laws would result in burdensome, meritless challenges to voters' eligibility.

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger praised the reforms as a victory for election integrity.

“Georgia is already a national leader in election integrity and security, and we congratulate Gov. Kemp and the General Assembly on the passage of the additional election integrity measures contained in this bill,” he told The Center Square.

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