One provision, the “Ballot Return Provision,” makes it a felony for anyone other than a family member, household member or caregiver to return an absentee ballot for another person. The second provision, the “Drop Box Provision,” extremely limits the availability of drop boxes in the state by requiring that drop boxes be inside (as opposed to outside) and only utilized during the early voting hours.
One group of plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuit challenging S.B. 202 argued that these provisions violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by denying voters with disabilities equal access to vote absentee. The plaintiffs requested that the court block these provisions for the upcoming 2024 elections, but the judge declined to do so.
In declining to temporarily block the ballot return provision and the drop box provision, the judge recognized “the challenges that individuals with disabilities must overcome to exercise their right to vote,” but concluded that the availability of alternative voting methods “offer a strong rebuttal” to the plaintiffs’ argument that voters with disabilities were denied meaningful access to absentee voting in Georgia. Therefore, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a likelihood of success on their claims against restriction on absentee ballot return and dropboxes in S.B. 202.
These restrictions – along with S.B. 202’s other restrictive provisions – are still the subject of critical litigation. Also on Friday, voters in Georgia were granted some relief when two different key provisions of S.B. 202 — part of the line-warming ban and the birth date matching requirement — were temporarily blocked.