The new Georgia elections law has ignited a political firestorm, sparking lawsuits and putting pressure on businesses to take a position. Republican supporters say new rules were needed to improve the electoral system and boost faith in the process, while Democrats say the GOP is trying to suppress voters who helped Democrats win the White House and control of the Senate.
Republican lawmakers passed the voting-rules bill along party lines in late March. “The facts are this new law will expand voting access in the Peach State,” said Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, upon signing the bill. Republicans have highlighted a new requirement for every county to offer two Saturdays of early voting instead of just one, with the option to add two Sundays, though several more populous Democratic counties already offered two Saturdays. The law doesn’t roll back early voting on weekends, despite that being proposed at one point.
Democrats and other critics believe the law is meant to depress minority turnout in particular, and say former President Donald Trump and his supporters corroded faith in the electoral process through unsupported fraud claims. A narrow victory in Georgia helped Joe Biden win the White House, and Democrats gained an edge in the U.S. Senate by flipping both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats in runoff elections.
The new law, known by a 98-page bill called SB 202, contains an array of changes detailed in often dense legal language. Here is a breakdown of several key provisions:
More Power for State Lawmakers and the State Election Board
The law would enable the State Election Board to, under certain conditions, remove and replace local election superintendents.