Georgia Governor Approves Controversial Election Bill

Georgia Governor Approves Controversial Election Bill

( – Lawmakers in Georgia have passed a controversial new bill overhauling many aspects of the state’s voting process. Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) officially signed Senate Bill 189 into law on May 7.

SB 189 expands the criteria for removing names from Georgia’s voter registration database in multiple ways. Election officials must now rely only on the text portion of a ballot obtained from a marking device when tallying votes and recounts rather than machine-readable data like QR codes.

The measure also broadens the “probable cause” standard, which applies to questioned voter eligibility cases. Now, anyone can challenge a registration if they believe a voter is deceased, registered in another jurisdiction, or using a non-residential address. If the challenge passes, election officials can remove the name from state voter rolls up to 45 days before election day.

Previously, anyone who was unhoused could list the address of a shelter or government office when registering to vote. Under SB 189, they must now enter the address of their local registrar’s office instead.

SB 189 also reduces the barrier of entry for smaller political entities to participate in state elections. New guidelines specify that “any political party or political body” that succeeds in getting listed on the presidential election ballot in at least 20 other states will automatically qualify to be listed on Georgia’s ballot, too.

Changes to how and when parties qualify to enter the presidential election race in Georgia aren’t likely to significantly impact Democrats or Republicans. However, they might make it easier for third-party independent candidates, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to stand a fighting chance.

The legislation has been the subject of notable controversy. Those who support SB 189′s changes believe they will help prevent dishonest practices while also enforcing fairness and transparency. However, opponents of the bill argue that it amounts to voter suppression.

On May 7, the ACLU called SB 189 a step back for voter rights and said it intends to sue over the changes. Senate Democrats in Georgia also released a statement that same day, warning that it would embolden “conspiracy theorists.” They also accused the Republican Party of only working to “please their leader, Donald Trump.”

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