Georgia state legislature advances new election rules News
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Georgia state legislature advances new election rules

The Georgia state legislature advanced SB 189 Thursday, which contains new rules on which presidential candidates can appear on the state ballot and probable cause to challenge voter registration ahead of the 2024 elections.

Under the proposed law, presidential candidates can appear on the state ballot if their political party “has obtained ballot access in no fewer than 20 states or territories for the office of presidential elector.” This provision could allow more independent candidates to appear on the ballots, rather than those of the two major parties—Democrat or Republican candidates—because independents would not need to garner petition signatures from the state. Additionally, the bill defines probable cause for challenging voter eligibility as:

[A]n elector who is deceased; an elector voting or registering to vote in a different jurisdiction; an elector obtaining a homestead exemption in a different jurisdiction; or an elector being registered at a nonresidential address as confirmed or listed by or in a government office, data base, website, or publicly available sources derived solely from such governmental sources.

The bill also contains a provision that requires people without a permanent address to re-do their voter registration to vote. According to the bill, “[T]he mailing address for election purposes of any person of this state who is homeless and without a permanent address shall be the registrar’s office of the county in which such person resides.”

The ACLU criticized the bill, arguing that it makes it easier for people to file “baseless, mass voter challenges.” In response to the bill’s advancement, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia Andrea Young stated, “Access to the ballot is at the heart of our democracy. This election ‘Frankenbill’ violates the National Voter Registration Act. We are committed to protecting Georgia voters. If the governor signs this bill, we will see him in court.” 

The bill will now go to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who could sign the bill into law and have it take effect before the 2024 elections. If Kemp vetoes the bill, it will return to the state Senate—where it originated—during the 2025 session to see if the legislature wishes to override the veto. If this happens, a two-thirds majority of each chamber must vote favorably to override the veto.