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Election reform bills clear key hurdles in Georgia legislature

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    ATLANTA, Georgia (WGCL ) — With Republicans still in control of the Georgia General Assembly, a handful of bills aimed at eliminating perceived voter fraud are breezing through the state legislature.

Among the election-related bills clearing the Senate Ethics Committee Thursday was Senate Bill 67, which ties each absentee-ballot request to that voter’s government-issued photo ID, “so that we are sure that the person that is getting a ballot – a live ballot – is indeed who they say they are,” said State Sen. Larry Walker, III, a Republican from Perry and a sponsor of the bill.

The latest version of the bill removes a requirement for a photocopy of the ID, instead requiring the number from the ID along with the voter’s date of birth.

“The only people I can think of that would oppose this are people that are trying to fraudulently request an absentee ballot,” Walker told committee members.

The committee approved the bill with the vote split along party lines. Three other election reform bills proposed by Republicans also were approved by the committee in partisan votes.

The only election-related bill that passed unanimously Thursday was sponsored by a Democrat, State Senator Jen Jordan of Atlanta. Her bill requires election workers to begin pre-processing absentee ballots before election day.

After the 2020 election, many Republican voters were convinced that fraudulent absentee ballots helped put Democrats over the top in the presidential race and in both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate races. Though widespread fraud has yet to be discovered in Georgia, Republican legislators vowed to make election reform a priority in the 2021 legislative session.

“To base new laws and policies on untruths, that’s not good policy,” State Sen. Sally Harrell of Atlanta told CBS46 News after the committee meeting.

Harrell said she’s concerned about first-time voters who don’t yet have state-issued photo IDs being unable to cast an absentee ballot.

Walker explained that his bill allows an exception for first-time voters, letting them use a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows their name and address as proof of their eligibility to vote.

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