Georgia Governor Signs Three Voter Suppression Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s now easier for any Georgia resident to challenge another resident’s eligibility due to a new law signed today by Gov. Brian Kemp (R). The law, Senate Bill 189, is one of three election bills passed by the Georgia General Assembly on April 4 — the last day of the legislative session. Cumulatively, these three voter suppression laws — all signed by Kemp today — will drastically change how elections are run in the Peach State ahead of the 2024 elections.

S.B. 189, the most impactful and controversial of the three laws, has two main components that could greatly affect elections in Georgia. In 2021, the Republican majority passed a controversial omnibus voting law that, among many other provisions, allows anyone to formally challenge as many voters’ eligibility in their county as they wish. 

S.B. 189 makes it even easier to invalidate a voter’s eligibility by not placing any limits on which factors can be used to make a valid claim — like if someone is registered to vote or has a “homestead exemption” in another jurisdiction. It also allows voters to be removed from the rolls up until 45 days before an election — a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which bans removal of voters within 90 days of a federal election. The new law also eliminates the practice of using QR codes on ballots to count votes electronically.

Another provision in S.B. 189 that could have major implications for the 2024 election is one that allows a presidential candidate from any political party to be on the ballot as long as they’ve qualified for the ballot in at least 20 other states. This could be a huge boost for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an independent candidate, potentially siphoning votes away from President Joe Biden. 

House Bill 974, another bill that was signed by Kemp today, addresses transparency in the election process, allowing for all ballots to be available for the public to access via the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. The bill ensures that no personal identifying information of voters in the digital scans of ballots would be available to the public. 

H.B. 974 is part of a troubling trend in Republican states to conduct citizen-led audits, inspired by the chaos and disinformation spread in the 2020 election. A number of right-wing figures filed lawsuits to gain access to ballots in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and at least one state — Texas — enacted a bill similar to the one signed by Kemp that allows the public to access voters’ ballots. 

Finally, House Bill 1207 — also signed into law by Kemp today — requires all election workers to be U.S. citizens and eliminates the number of election machines per voters at every polling location, with one machine per every 250 voters. 

Ahead of the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of S.B. 189, the ACLU of Georgia warned that, should Kemp sign the bill into law, the civil rights organization will sue. “Access to the ballot is at the heart of our democracy. This election ‘Frankenbill’ violates the National Voter Registration Act,” ACLU of Georgia executive director Andrea Young said in a statement. “We are committed to protecting Georgia voters. If the governor signs this bill, we will see him in court.”

Read Senate Bill 189 here.

Read House Bill 974 here.

Read House Bill 1207 here.