Strict Georgia Voting Law Drives Absentee Request Rejections

·2 min read

Unsurprisingly, the restrictive voting bill passed by Georgia Republicans earlier this year worked to disenfranchise Georgia voters in the Nov. 2 municipal elections.

The law imposed a new deadline to apply for an absentee ballot 11 days ahead of the election when voters used to be able to apply up until the Friday before election day. 52% of the applications were rejected for coming in after the deadline.

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According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, only 26% of those who had their applications tossed were able to get to the polls to vote in person.

Senate Bill 202 was passed in March after a record breaking 1.3 million Georgia voters turned in their absentee ballots in the 2020 presidential election, NPR affiliate WABE reports. The law imposed this new deadline, limited the number of ballot drop boxes and more.

Also, missing the new deadline wasn’t the only reason for rejections. The law’s strict requirements for identification also caused a lot of applications denials.

More from the Journal-Constitution:

The second-largest cause of absentee application rejections also stemmed from Georgia’s voting law. Missing or incorrect ID information accounted for 15% of denied ballot requests.

The voting law requires a driver’s license number, state ID number or a photocopy of another form of ID for absentee voting. Previously, election officials verified absentee voters by a system of signature matching and registration information verification.

The law also eliminated the biggest source of absentee application rejections from last year’s election.

Three-quarters of application rejections last year were duplicative requests for absentee ballots, often caused because voting organizations and local governments repeatedly mailed voters request forms.

The voting law now bans governments from mailing unsolicited absentee request forms, and organizations are only allowed to mail applications to Georgians who haven’t already requested a ballot or voted. As a result, this fall’s elections had no absentee application rejections because voters submitted forms twice.

The Justice Department, as well as some advocate groups, sued Georgia over the law but over the summer a federal judge refused to block parts of it including the application deadline.

While supporters of the bill felt the deadline ensured a sound turnaround of receiving and returning absentee ballots, critics said the deadline can prevent many citizens from being able to vote at all. In emergency or last minute situations, someone could have missed the deadline if it’s too far in advance.

“Far too many voters end up being disenfranchised,” said State Election Board member Sara Tindall Ghazal to the Journal-Constitution. “It leads to many voters getting their applications rejected and not able to access their ballot otherwise.”

Obviously, the law worked just as intended.

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