New Georgia Election Law to bring changes to local elections
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Georgia Senate Bill 202 has been signed into law, making changes to elections moving forward.
The 95-page bill included details about election issues the state has experienced in the last few years and makes nine big changes to the election process.
After signing the bill into law, Governor Brian Kemp said it will help protect the voting process.
“Ensuring the integrity of the ballot box isn’t partisan. It’s about protecting the very foundation of who we are as Georgians and as Americans,” Kemp stated.
The new law requires absentee voters to request a ballot 11 days before election day. It also requires voters to verify their identity with a driver’s license number or other documents.
Ballot drop boxes will move inside voting precincts instead, to allow election officials to keep a closer eye on them.
The bill also introduces changes to local boards of elections. It gives the state the power to replace a local board with a single official.
On Tuesday, Macon-Bibb Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clarke attempted to pass a resolution saying the Bibb County government does not support losing control of the local board of elections.
“It is changing laws that directly impact our ability to govern,” Clarke said. “It directly impacts our neighbor’s access to decide who governs them, and impacts our appointees and employees ability to conduct free, fair, and accessible elections.”
Although commissioner Valerie Wynn says she does not want the county to lose control of its elections board. She also agrees on the need for changes to the state’s election process.
“I think that there’s a lot of things that go on with our elections now that I don’t agree with. I think we need to bring it back to where it used to be,” Wynn said. “The election day should be a holiday.”
The local board of elections will also now only have six days to certify election results.
Early voting for runoffs will now only be a week-long and will take place four weeks after a general election.
The bill also prohibits people from handing out water or snacks to voters waiting in line.
Macon-Bibb Board of Elections Chairman, Mike Kaplan, says the changes are overwhelming,
but his staff will do whatever it takes to make voters feel more secure.
“We can only control what we do right here in bibb county,” Kaplan explained. “That’s what we’re going to do. As long as we keep doing the job we’re doing, I think we’re going to be fine. I do have a lot of concerns about this bill however and we’ll see how it filters down to the local board of elections.”
The Macon-Bibb Board of Elections will get new staff in April, and they will have to adjust to the changes in time for elections in May and June.