Voting Restrictions Stripped from Gov. Kemp's Bill After Bipartisan Backlash from Georgia Counties
Georgia locals came together in a bipartisan effort to oppose a bill which county election administrators blasted as “security theater.”
The bill, known as HB 1464, was expected to waste time, money, and drive off the state's already scarce election workers without meaningfully improving election integrity.
With bipartisan criticism and confusion by its authors as to what the bill actually does, HB 1464 was gutted in the subcommittee.
A bipartisan group of county-level election administrators — the people who actually run elections— spoke out against HB 1464, Georgia’s proposed election regulation bill. They warned voters that the bill would create absurd burdens on the already dwindling force of election workers and create a high likelihood of increased voter intimidation.
Local leaders were deeply concerned about the impact this bill would have on election integrity in the upcoming election cycle if hastily passed.
By standing together, honest Georgians succeeded in gutting all of the nonsense provisions included in the original bill which aimed at making it harder to vote and easier for corrupt politicians to cheat.
The bill would have:
Let the public physically inspect paper ballots after an election, undermining voters’ privacy and ballot security.
Let the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigate election fraud at whim for political theatre, centralizing election authority and undermining the electoral process.
Created extensive new chain-of-custody requirements for handling ballots, wasting time and resources by requiring election workers to count blank sheets of paper at the end of each day.
Allowed only the State Election Board to accept private donations for election administration, disrupting relationships with churches and other groups that donate their buildings for polling places.
Destabilizing the Election Process
Election officials say they are concerned about implementing more changes while they are trying to deal with last year’s changes, redistricting, and a new electronic voter registration system.
“You’re in the middle of an election cycle as you’re trying to push these bills into law, which reduces the opportunity for the counties to comply with this,” said Karen Evans-Daniel, a member of the Macon-Bibb County elections board.
The statewide association of local election officials is now working to “start taking stances on legislation like this, where the association would have a view that represents a majority of our members,” said Joseph Kirk, the elections supervisor for Bartow County, which is deeply Republican.
By activating the voice of election workers, Georgia can better protect election integrity in the future from other bad bills like HB 1464.
Bill Lacks Common-Sense
The bill also included a long list of bureaucratic changes that were deemed “security theater” by local leaders. One of the most absurd measures in the proposed bill was a requirement that election workers count blank pieces of ballot paper.
Joel Natt, a Republican member of the Forsyth County board of elections said his county would have to perform three separate checks on each package of paper, including trying to count all 500 sheets and checking the weight of the paper. “Think about how much paper I have to order for every election,” Natt said. “That is a lot of counting. That is a lot of time.”
Natt said that would be a huge demand in Forsyth County, with 172,000 registered voters, and he anticipates election workers to not put up with the proposed rules.
“I have 400 poll workers that work for our board. That is 400 people that I could see telling me after May, ‘Have a nice life,’ and it’s hard enough to keep them right now.”
Not only would these rules cause an undue burden on election workers, they also would not making elections any more secure. Joseph Kirk, the election supervisor in Bartow County, said proposed additional requirements provide no benefit for election integrity and security.
“Having security procedures in a secured authorized-access only room is security theater,” Kirk said. “That’s what slows down your resources that we need to dedicate to other things that really matter.”