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Republicans Push For Restrictions On Voting Rights

The state senate of Georgia passed a bill in the state which restricts voting rights in the state. The bill, which was passed by a narrow margin seeks to repeal no-excuse absentee voting rights in Georgia. 

Republicans Push For Restrictions On Voting Rights

The Republican state senate of Georgia passed a Bill that seeks to enact sweeping changes in the swing state, which includes no-excuse absentee voting. 

The Bill seeks to implement changes to the absentee voting in the state. To avail the no-excuse absentee voting, voters in the state need to be 65 years or older, not present at their precinct, observing a national holiday, required for providing constant care for someone with a physical disability, or required for work for the ‘protection of health, life or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open’, or be an overseas or military voter. 

Absentee voting rights gained popularity during last November’s general elections, when 1.3 million residents in the state used the method to cast their vote.

During the 2020 elections, several Republicans lashed out against the postal ballot system used by Georgians to cast their vote with uncorroborated accusations of voter fraud.  

The Bill now makes its way to the Georgia House of Representatives where the fate of no-excuse absentee voting rights would be decided. 

The move comes at a time when the Republican legislatures across the country are looking to implement strict voting rules since it lost the 2020 General Elections and US Senate majority. The latest development in this respect comes from Iowa, where Kim Reynolds, the GOP  Governor of the state signed a new law that imposes voting restrictions with limitations placed on voting early. 

Although Georgia’s senate majority leader Mike Dugan emphasized that introducing the legislation was a necessary step to reduce cost of ballot processing, reduce pressure on local election workers and ensure that all absentee ballots are counted, Democrats in the country have accused the GOP of baseless accusations to enforce changes in voting rights. 

Republican activists mounted a week-long protest to voice their support for the passage of the Bill, which did so by a one-vote majority after abstentations were accounted for. 

The measure has been opposed by voting right groups across the US who are putting pressure on legislators to refrain from rolling back voting rights accorded during the 2020 General Elections, which saw a record voter turnout in the state. 

Andrea Young, Executive Director of ACLU of Georgia vowed to ‘use every tool to block the voting restrictions’, including raising concerns over the state’s corporate interests. 

The Governor of the state Brian Kemp did not actively voice his support for the bill, but his spokeswoman affirmed that the Governor had full support for strengthened voter ID provisions on absentee voter. 

Donald Trump, the former president had lost almost 12,000 votes in the state with no evidence of any fraud that could overturn the election counts, as per the federal and state officials.

There was debate regarding how the Senate Bill would limit voting by mail, as it aims to limit no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia is amongst the 34 states that presently does not require any formal excuse for voting by mail , as per the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University concluded that although the Bill would make voting easier for older Georgians, it would make voting harder for young voters. The analysis further claimed that the move would likely benefit White Georgians, who have more older members of voting by mail.

The legislation is due to end on March 31 later this month. 

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