Georgia lawmakers pass electoral reforms that could affect 2024 presidential election.

Atlanta — Georgia lawmakers passed new rules for challenging voters and qualifying on the presidential ballot on Thursday, which could affect the 2024 presidential race in the battleground state.

Senate Bill 189 passed the House 101–73 and the Senate 33-22, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for signature or veto. After former President Donald Trump and other Republicans falsely claimed he lost Georgia's 16 electoral votes in 2020 due to fraud, Republicans in Georgia have frequently proposed election modifications.

A political party that qualified for the presidential ballot in at least 20 states or territories might run in Georgia under the bill. The change may help independent candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose campaign has Democrats terrified it will derail President Joe Biden.

The law also defines “probable cause” for upholding voter eligibility disputes, which could lead to voter removal. Someone who is dead, has voted or registered to vote in a different jurisdiction, has registered for a homestead exemption in a different jurisdiction, or is registered at a nonresidential address has probable cause.

Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Max Burns, a Sylvania Republican, defined probable cause simply. Democrats called the provision a license for bogus voter attacks that would overload election managers and disenfranchise individuals. Republican organizers have challenged over 100,000 voters in recent years to identify fraudulent registrations, including thousands of challenges in some large Georgia counties.

Rep. Saira Draper, an Atlanta Democrat, called the measure “lies and fearmongering.” “You know the policy of not negotiating with terrorists,” she continued. “I wish we didn't make laws to appease conspiracy theorists.” Duluth Democrat Ruwa Romman said the law and others like it undermine Americans' faith in the election system, a cornerstone of democracy. “We must fight lies, not legislate them,” she stated.

Republican Rep. Victor Anderson of Cornelia supported the voter challenge portion, citing a provision that says a name on the U.S. Postal Service's national change of address list isn't enough to challenge. A provision delays disputes within 45 days of an election, he added.

He stated, “Colleagues, I contend that our bill actually makes the process of challenging more difficult.” House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman John LaHood, a Valdosta Republican, said the law boosts electoral confidence. “This bill ensures that your legal vote matters,” he stated.

The law would force counties to submit absentee ballot results within an hour of polls closing and allow them to use paper ballots in elections with fewer than 5,000 registered voters, but not until 2025.

Starting July 1, 2026, the state cannot use QR codes to count ballots created on state ballot marking equipment. QR codes are used to count votes, but opponents argue people don't trust them since they can't read them. The bill requires ballots to be read using machine-made text or human-readable markers like filled-in bubbles.

State lawmakers have proposed bills to the governor that would require audits of multiple statewide elections, add a security element to ballots, limit poll workers to U.S. citizens, and limit voting machines.

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