Democratic lawmakers hope to expand voters' rights
ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia Democrats are facing an uphill climb as they try to expand voters' rights by allowing same day registration and removing ID requirements. The minority lawmakers control less than one third of the state Legislature, but are putting forth a set of proposed laws to expand voter access.
President Donald Trump falsely maintains there was massive voter fraud in the 2016 election. Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been adamant that no illegal votes were cast in the state.
Here's a look at their proposed legislation:
Georgia already offers voters the option of registering online, but three Democratic lawmakers are pushing for registration to be even easier. They introduced bills to allow automatic voter registration when obtaining or renewing a drivers' license, or during any other interactions with a state agency.
The thinking is that as long as a person is already providing information such as proof of residency and citizenship, they should be automatically registered to vote.
Democratic State Sen. Vincent Fort introduced a bill to allow voters to both register and cast a ballot on Election Day. Last year, the deadline to register to vote was more than a month before the presidential election. The bill would increase voter turnout and widen democracy, Fort said.
ACCESS TO POLLS
Fort also introduced legislation essentially repealing the requirement for voters to show photo ID at a polling place. Georgia was one of the first states to implement a voter ID law in 2008. Proponents of the law say it helps to eliminate widespread fraud, but multiple studies have shown that there is no evidence of such fraud in the U.S. Those groups also contend that the ID requirement disproportionately targets people of color and the elderly.
A proposal from Rep. Roger Bruce would allow voters to cast a ballot at any precinct in their home county. Additionally, a bill sponsored by Rep. David Dreyer would require polling places to be located within 25 miles of every voter in a county.
The bill also stipulates that precincts could not be moved or closed within 90 days of an election. In 2016, local officials in some Georgia counties made steep cuts to the number of polling places compared to 2012. Some voters were turned away from precincts because they weren't told their polling place had been moved.
EARLY AND ABSENTEE VOTING
Sen. Lester Jackson introduced a bill to expand the window for early voting. The bill adds an additional Saturday to the current schedule, which Democrats say would make it easier to vote for people who work or can't otherwise get to a polling place during weekdays.
Rep. J. Craig Gordon plans to introduce a bill giving voters the option to sign up to receive an absentee ballot for each election. Currently, some voters have to request a ballot well ahead of each election.