Georgia lawmaker wants to suppress minority votes so GOP can win elections again

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A new bill would force voters to mail in copies of their photo ID twice if casting an absentee ballot.

A Republican lawmaker in Georgia is making it harder for minority voters to cast a ballot in the wake of his party's stunning election losses over the past few months.

Georgia State Sen. Jason Anavitarte introduced legislation on Wednesday that would force voters to provide a photocopy of their ID for their absentee ballot applications, as well as when they return them.

Accepted identification for the bill would include a driver’s license, voter ID card, U.S. passport, government employee ID, military ID card, or tribal identification card. Military members and overseas voters would be exempt from having to return a copy of their ID.

Fair Fight Action, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia, quickly slammed the bill, saying that it intentionally hurts voters of color.

"By requiring access to a printer, which many Georgians obviously do not have, Republicans are attempting to purposely take away the ability of many Georgians to vote by mail simply because they believe too many Democrats and too many people of color voted by mail," Seth Bringman, a Fair Fight spokesman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The bill is the latest in a line of attempts by state Republicans to fix future elections in their favor — often by targeting minority and low-income voters — following the party's shocking defeats in the presidential election and January runoffs.

In December, the state Senate Republican Caucus released a statement calling to eliminate no-excuse (or at-will) absentee voting that allows voters to request an mail ballot for any reason, as well as to ban ballot drop boxes. They vowed to introduce legislation on the matter.

The November election had seen record numbers of absentee or mail-in voting, especially among Black voters, due to safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will reform our election laws to secure our electoral process by eliminating at-will absentee voting. We will require photo identification for absentee voting for cause, and we will crack down on ballot harvesting by outlawing drop boxes," the statement said.

Jon Greenbaum, senior deputy director for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has been tracking Republican legislation on voting and elections, pointed out that in 2005, Georgia's GOP leaders did not require photo ID for absentee voting when the state passed a law mandating IDs for in-person voting. He told USA Today that during that time, Republican voters in general employed mail-in voting in larger numbers than Democratic voters.

But now, Greenbaum said, "this has all flipped."

"It's not consistent — after this 2020 election in which voters of color and Democratic voters were more likely to use vote-by-mail — to now all of a sudden have all these restrictions," he told the outlet.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, the CEO of Fair Fight Action, also pushed back against the Republican efforts.

"Georgia Republicans are weak and desperate,” Groh-Wargo tweeted in December. “Guys, Florida and Ohio have similar vote by mail laws as GA and Trump was able to win both states! Access to mail balloting is good for all Americans; the GOP needs to just step up its (get-out-the-vote) game instead of focusing on voter suppression."

President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Georgia last November, garnering approximately double the amount of absentee ballots as the then-White House occupant, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Senate Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock also won their runoff races in January against incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loefler, respectively.

Political analysts have noted that more Democrats typically vote by mail these days than Republicans, according to the Associated Press.

After his loss, Trump pushed countless unfounded and debunked election fraud claims targeting predominantly Black and brown cities in places like Georgia, which state's legislators then used to cloak their subsequent attempts to suppress those votes.

"We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors," Georgia Republican House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement in December.

Though Ralston has opposed ending no-excuse voting, he indicated support for requiring photo ID for mail-in ballots, Savannah Now noted.

"People are concerned [about fraud claims] and I think we have to address those concerns," he said earlier in January.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.