ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Protestors outside the Georgia State Capitol on March 25, 2021, hoped for a different outcome for voting bill SB 202, but many expected the final decision. "This bill having received the requisite constitutional majority has therefore passed," House Speaker David Ralston announced during the legislative session. It passed 100-75.
State representatives passed the sweeping elections overhaul with more voter ID requirements, limiting the number of drop boxes and allowing legislators to appoint the state election board chairman. "What we have done with this bill in front of you is we have cleaned up the workings, the mechanics of an election system," said State Representative and Regulated Industries Chairman Alan Powell (R-Hartwell, District 32) during the session.
The Georgia Senate passed the bill hours later. This is weeks after House lawmakers passed HB 531 with similar restrictions. "When they could find no voter fraud, we questioned, 'Why would you have to put rules in place where there was no problem,'" said Sandra Williams, the executive director of the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council. "We know that voter suppression is real in Georgia."
Democrats say it turns the clock back by decades, but Rpublicans argue history is repeating itself in a different way. "The very thing that the Voting Rights Act of the '60s did away with is what you like now, because you want to go back to being the new bossman," Powell said.
Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202 into law later in the evening. He released a statement he provided to Fox News:
What this bill actually does is fight the rhetoric from those that are fund-raising off of this issue and polarizing it, to take away from the unconstitutional power grab of H.R. 1 that's going on in Washington D.C. right now. It further secures our absentee ballots by mail by requiring a photo I.D., which the vast majority of Georgians support. It is also adding days of early voting on the weekends. We're expanding the right to vote in Georgia. You're not hearing that from the other side. That's what the truth is, as well as further securing absentee ballot boxes, which didn't exist before.
Protesters say Republicans were fine with the system until they lost the presidential and Senate election seats and are seeking to change the rules to suppress votes. "When I look around, I see Black faces and White faces, I see Asians and Latin faces, I see workers and unemployed people in a movement to protect everyone," said South Fulton City Councilman Khalid Kamau during the protests.
"We must pass HR 1 and HR 4, John Lewis's Voter Advancement Act. That has to happen," Williams said, adding those federal bills could supersede Georgia's voting laws, if passed.
She said they'll continue reaching out to Congress to fight for those bills.
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