Georgia Bans Voters From Giving Water With Extensive Restrictions By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Protest against House Bill 531 in Atlanta

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From Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – The Republican-led Georgia General Assembly passed sweeping electoral law on Thursday introducing new electoral restrictions on the state that will help Democrats win the White House and reduce control of the U.S. Senate.

Both the House and Senate approved the legislation Thursday afternoon, and Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, announced his intention to incorporate the measure into law at an evening ceremony. No democratic legislature voted for the measure.

The legislation is one of more than 250 bills Republicans have tabled to propose new voting limits across the country since former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. Members of his party have taken up Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud to push for restrictions.

Republicans in Georgia said their bill would make voting more accessible and safer. Democrats and suffrage activists described the move as one of the country’s most damaging attempts to restrict access to the ballot box, saying it was designed to reduce the influence of black voters.

When asked Thursday about the Republican legislature’s efforts to restrict electoral access in the United States, President Joe Biden called such measures “un-American.”

Georgian legislation would add a new postal voting ID requirement. Restriction of ballot boxes, including removal in the last four days before an election; and make it a felony to give food or drink to voters waiting in long lines.

It would also set up a fraud hotline, prohibit local polling stations from taking breaks while ballots are counted, and cut the runoff cycle from nine weeks to four weeks. In addition, it would give the state electoral board the power to replace the district’s local electoral boards.

Early versions of the bill aimed to restrict Sunday voting, a provision that would have curtailed traditional “Souls to the Polls” voter programs popular in black churches. Those days were restored after the Democrats pushed back, and additional Saturday election days were also included.

Earlier this week, Georgia House spokesman David Ralston said the bill would “make voting more accessible and improve election security.”

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the legislation on Thursday.

It is “an anti-voter law that attacks postal voting criminalizes Georgians from giving their neighbors a drink of water (and) allowing the state to run state elections,” said Andrea Young, executive director of Georgia ACLU.

Trump fought with Republican heads of state and electoral officials in Georgia for weeks after his narrow defeat, making unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that were refuted by a hand and machine count and rejected by the courts and investigators.

On Monday, Trump approved a challenger looking to defeat Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary.

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