UPDATE: On Wednesday, May 3, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed Senate Bill 222 into law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, March 27, the Georgia House passed Senate Bill 222, a bill which would tighten and criminalize the state’s pre-existing ban on private funding in election administration, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp (R). S.B. 222 passed on party-line votes in both chambers, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. The bill now awaits Kemp’s likely signature.
In Georgia’s 2021 voter suppression law, the state enacted a ban on private grants for election administration. The provision reads: “No superintendent shall take or accept any funding, grants, or gifts from any source other than from the governing authority of the county or municipality, the State of Georgia, or the federal government.” Even though private grants can be a lifeline for chronically underfunded election offices, they have become a target for Republican lawmakers since 2020 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated over $400 million to election offices through the Center for Technology and Civic Life.
Now, S.B. 222 further tightens the law enacted in 2021. It expands the definition of who is prohibited from accepting money to any “county or municipal government, government employee, or election official.” According to the Associated Press, this provision may be in response to the county commissioners in Atlanta’s DeKalb County accepting a grant and noting that they did not violate the 2021 law because county commissioners, rather than an election office, accepted the grant. Additionally, S.B. 222 would make violations of this law a felony.
Correction: A previous version stated that S.B. 222 was headed to the governor. Now that it passed the Georgia House, it goes back to the Georgia Senate for a final vote before heading to the governor for his signature.