Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the Republican-backed “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” or SB 202, into law Thursday as Democratic lawmakers protested the bill.
The legislation seeks to tighten up elections and reduce fraud by enforcing conformity across the state, amping up voter ID, restricting drop boxes, and expanding in-person voting, among additional election-related overhauls.
“With Senate Bill 202, Georgia will take another step toward ensuring our elections are secure, accessible and fair,” Kemp said Thursday. “Ensuring the integrity of the ballot box isn’t partisan, it’s about protecting the very foundation of who we are as Georgians and Americans.”
The bill’s provisions add ID requirements for absentee-by-mail ballots; when Georgians return their ballots, they will be required to use a form of identification to verify who they are. As noted by NPR, this change “replaces the controversial method that has election workers match signatures on applications and ballot envelopes with those on file.”
SB 202 also expands in-person voting access, NPR noted: “Current Georgia law requires three weeks of Monday through Friday voting during ‘normal business hours’ and a mandatory Saturday session from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, with counties allowed to add more hours — including on the weekends — as they saw fit.”
Kemp’s signing of the bill sparked protesting from Democratic representatives.
Democratic Rep. Park Cannon was detained by Georgia State Patrol after she made it to an entrance of the governor’s office. She was escorted out of the building in handcuffs, but it remains unclear if Cannon will be charged with anything.
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) March 25, 2021
Last month, elected Democrats clashed with police in the Georgia State Capitol while protesting a similar Republican-backed election integrity bill, HB 531. Rep. Cannon, again, was at the center of the protest. The Daily Wire reported:
Inside the Capitol, protesting Democrats were told by officers that they were in violation of the law and asked to back up when they started shouting “All Votes Matter” and climbed the stairs leading to the House and Senate chambers as legislators were recessing for lunch, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).
One of the representatives, state Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat, walked in front of the officer’s megaphone. She was grabbed on the arm by another officer and asked to back up.
“Step aside, ma’am,” the officer told Cannon. “Go, go. Step aside.”
“You can’t touch her!” protesters yelled at the officer.
Outraged Democrats later started a sit-in on the steps, demanding an apology from Georgia State Patrol. … The Democrats sat until they “received an apology,” which was not made public, according to AJC. The sit-in lasted about 90 minutes and no arrests were made.
Cannon claimed that HB 531 targets voters by race and status. “The goal of me speaking today is so that black people, people across the state of Georgia, poor people, mothers and seniors can vote,” the Democrat said at the time.