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Kemp signs new Georgia voting rules into law ahead of presidential election

<i>Megan Varner/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Kemp signs new Georgia voting rules into law ahead of the presidential election
Megan Varner/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Kemp signs new Georgia voting rules into law ahead of the presidential election

By Fredreka Schouten, CNN

(CNN) — Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law new rules for challenging voters’ eligibility along with a measure that would make it easier for an independent candidate to qualify for the presidential ballot — provisions that could shape the outcome of fall elections in this key battleground state.

The Republican-controlled state legislature passed the measures in late March. Kemp did not issue a statement about his decision to sign the changes into law.

The ACLU of Georgia said it would sue to block the new rules, which its executive director Andrea Young called a “step back for voters’ rights and voting access” in the state.

Under the new law, “any political party or political body” that has obtained ballot access in at least 20 states or territories can qualify for Georgia’s presidential ballot.

That could benefit third-party or independent presidential candidates in a state that Joe Biden narrowly carried over Donald Trump in 2020. Currently, independent or third-party candidates must collect at least 7,500 signatures from registered Georgia voters to qualify for the ballot in the state.

Other measures change voting procedures.

They include a provision that broadens what constitutes “probable cause” needed to uphold challenges to voter registrations. It would include evidence that a voter has died, obtained a homestead exemption on their taxes in a different jurisdiction or registered to vote at a nonresidential address.

Since the 2020 election triggered widespread false claims of voter fraud in Georgia, individual activists in the state have lodged tens of thousands of voter eligibility challenges. A 2021 Georgia law stipulated that a single voter could bring an unlimited number of challenges, and election officials in some large counties were inundated with demands to remove voters from the rolls during the 2022 midterms.

Critics say the new law could burden election officials with unnecessary work and fuel meritless attacks on voter qualifications, by targeting, for instance, someone who lives at the same address as their business. It also allows the use of a US Postal Service change-of-address database in bringing challenges, although it cannot be the sole basis for canceling a voter’s registration.

Voting rights groups have long argued that change-of-address data does not establish that someone is no longer eligible to vote in a state because college students, people with vacation homes and members of the military, for instance, may opt to temporarily receive their mail at another, out-of-state address.

The new Georgia law also requires homeless people to use the county registration office as their voting address — instead of the place they have found shelter. Opponents say that could make it harder for unhoused people to cast ballots because their voting precincts could end up being a long distance from where they are living at the time of the election.

The head of Fair Fight, a voting rights group founded by former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, called the law “voter suppression.”

“Everything the GOP is doing is about the 11k votes Biden won by in 2020-they’re focused on finding ways to shave off votes they don’t like to win & creating the conditions to overturn results they don’t like,” the group’s CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo wrote on X.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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