ATLANTA — Today, Georgia Republicans—with the support of Speaker David Ralston— rushed SB 202 out of committee, advancing one of the most dangerous, harmful, and expensive anti-voting bills in the nation. Before the text of the bill is even available to the public on the legislature’s website, Republicans on the Special Committee on Election Integrity have jammed this 94-page mess through committee without the transparency to allow legislators, advocates, and voters a chance to analyze it.
SB 202 represents a devastating attack on voting access and Georgia voters’ freedoms, including a total elimination of weekend voting and Souls to the Polls during runoff elections. In the recent US Senate runoff elections, not only were Black voters disproportionately likely to vote on weekends, on 3 out of 4 days Black voters actually outperformed white voters, according to data from the Georgia Secretary of State.
According to the Center for New Data, Black, AAPI, and Hispanic Georgians were more likely than white Georgians to vote on weekends instead of during the week at 11.8% for Black voters, 13.1% for AAPI voters, and 11.4% of Hispanic voters – compared to only 8.6% of white voters.
The bill also includes provisions to allow Republican legislators to remove and replace entire county boards of elections. In addition, SB 202 allows the legislature to appoint a majority of the State Election Board, giving them majority control over the body that oversees their own elections. Rep. Barry Fleming showed the GOP’s true motives in a hearing on the bill, saying “we as legislators decide how we will be elected because we decide our boards of elections.” If SB 202 is enacted, Republican legislators can use their newly self-given power to oust and replace election officials in order to overturn election results they do not like.
The advancement of SB 202 presents a clear danger to Georgia’s democracy, undermining the sanctity of the democratic process and empowering Republican attempts to silence voters and overturn elections. That Speaker David Ralston has endorsed this bill and Republicans continue to force it through the legislature shows the true lengths that the GOP will go to in their quest to stay in power through any means necessary.