ATLANTA — As the Georgia State Legislature begins Crossover Day, Georgia Republicans are in the full throes of a desperate power grab to take authority away from both the Secretary of State and local county boards of election as part of their latest anti-democratic push following their 2020 losses.
This “unprecedented shift in elections administration to the Republican-controlled Legislature” is just the most recent episode of infighting on the Republican side, coming after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger publicly broke with Speaker David Ralston and Governor Brian Kemp to support ending no-excuse absentee voting — before immediately trying to cover himself by predicting it wouldn’t actually pass.
Now, as Republicans prepare to vote on legislation not only to end absentee voting but also add restrictive new voter ID rules and restrict weekend early voting, state GOP leaders are keeping themselves busy fighting with each other over rules that would erode local control and democratic accountability as part of a desperate partisan grab.
“Not only would Republicans’ anti-voting push hurt voters, but it would also strip control from both state and local election officials,” said Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo. “National Republicans whining about ‘power grabs’ or partisan tactics in Congress are gaslighting America — they are grabbing elections administration power left and right in Georgia and across the country so they can attempt to overthrow future election results and further solidify the Big Lie that caused an insurrection via voter suppression state legislation.”
Read more from the AJC on Republican leaders’ intraparty elections power grab:
AJC: The Jolt: GOP voting bills take power from locals & Brad Raffensperger, give to lawmakers
By Greg Bluestein
- Up today in the Georgia Senate: More than one dozen elections-related measures, including bills to restrict absentee voting and end automatic voter registration.
- A crucial underlying trend in the Republican-backed proposals that’s attracting less attention than efforts to roll back voting rights: A transfer of power from the Secretary of State’s office and county boards of elections to lawmakers.
- Under Senate Bill 241, up for debate later today, lawmakers would have to approve emergency election rules within 20 days of their creation.
- Also, elections officials would no longer be able to send absentee ballot request forms without voter requests. And the state could no longer enter into a consent decree without a joint resolution from the General Assembly.
- The previously-adopted House package adds a few more twists.
- It also creates a new chairman of the State Election Board, appointed by lawmakers, and turns the Secretary of State from a voting member to a non-voting member of the Board.
- A separate measure that has already cleared the Senate empowers the State Elections Board to replace local elections officials with new leaders if they don’t meet new performance standards. The House has a similar proposal pending.
- Democrats say the changes amount to an unprecedented shift in elections administration to the Republican-controlled Legislature – payback for Democratic upset wins in January and November.
- The measures would also greatly reduce the autonomy of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is under attack by fellow Republicans after defying pressure to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss.