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Georgia Election Offices prepare for changes to voting laws

New laws are changing how Georgians vote
Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 31, 2021

THOMASVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) — It's a busy day for Thomas County Elections Supervisor Frank Scoggins. Georgia's nearly 100-page voting law sits on his desk along with every other election supervisor in the state.

"This is pretty big. They've redone the whole aspect of it pretty much is what it looks like so far. I'm still plowing through it," he said.

As those local officials comb through the document, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is looking to them for help making the law easier to understand for the masses.

"The Secretary of State just sent us an email today and asked us to turn in our concerns because they're developing a Frequently Asked Questions. They're working diligently to help us understand everything," said Scoggins.

The Republican-backed bill signed last week by Governor Brian Kemp is changing the Peach State's voting process. If you want to request an absentee ballot, you'll have to show a photo ID. If you're looking for a ballot drop box, they'll only be available at early voting locations during business hours and won't be available at all during the last 4 days of an election.

Under the new law, the Georgia Secretary of State will no longer be the top election official. Instead, a majority vote by the General Assembly will elect a chair. That chair will oversee the board that will have the power to suspend local election directors.

Changes like these are already sparking legal challenges over voter suppression from organizations such as the Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, and League of Women Voters of Georgia.

Valdosta State University Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences James LaPlant says it's hard to guess how the courts will rule.

"You've seen a drifting of the federal judiciary more toward the GOP. Trump and the Senate and Mitch McConnell were very successful and appointing a large number of Republicans to the federal bench," said LaPlant. "The backlash against this bill could mobilize voters, anger voters that are on the progressive side."

LaPlant adds this could be the first of many sweeping changes.

"You could see a slew of states that have passed restrictions like we're talking about here in Georgia, all in preparation for the mid-term congressional elections and then don't forget over 30 states have gubernatorial elections in 2022 so it's quite a significant election year coming up," he said.

Georgia's voting changes will take full effect by the next time most counties go to vote.