Georgia state Senate passes election reform package, including absentee ballot signature-match overhaul

The Georgia state Senate has just passed election reforms, which includes an overhaul of the absentee ballot signature matching that was so problematic in the last election:

DC EXAMINER – The Georgia Senate approved four measures Tuesday that make changes to the election process as a response to November’s presidential election.

Among the bills passed Tuesday, the Senate voted, 37-18, to reform the absentee-ballot-signature-matching-process that critics said is ripe for fraud.

Senate Bill 67 requires absentee ballot voters to put their driver’s license or state-issued identification number on the ballot or include a photocopy of an accepted form of identification with their ballot request form instead of a signature.

Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry, who introduced the bill, said the change would make the absentee ballot counting process more efficient and secure.

“You sign your name on that little digital screen, and your signature oftentimes really doesn’t look like your actual signature that you do on a daily basis,” Walker said. “You could run into the situation where a family member mailed in the ballot request, which is totally legal, and so the signature would be a moot point.”

To put the 37-18 vote in context, Republicans control the Senate in Georgia by a margin of 34-22 according to Ballotpedia. Which means a few Democrats came over to vote with Republicans.

There were other election bills as well:

The legislative package included two other bills that would reform the absentee-ballot counting process. Senate Bill 40 would allow election workers to open and tabulate absentee ballots before Election Day. Under the bill, sponsored by Jordan, election officials must remain mum about the results until the polls close. SB 40 cleared the Senate unanimously, 53-0.

Senate Bill 188 requires counties to report the number of absentee ballots issued and returned and the number of in-person votes cast when the polls close. The Senate passed SB 188 with a 34-18 vote.

The Senate also approved Senate Bill 184, which decreases the time after an election that counties can reconcile or verify vote tallies from 60 days to 30 days. The measure cleared the Senate with a 37-15 vote.

“When these measures become law, voters will have confidence and confirmation that their vote was indeed counted and counted quickly with county election boards required to publicly post the total number of votes received before they begin tabulating,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who sponsored SB 188 and SB 184.

The bills now go to the House for consideration.

Republicans control the House in Georgia by a margin of 103-77, so hopefully they won’t have any trouble passing these bills into law.

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