Georgia House passes GOP bill rolling back voting access

Republican lawmakers in Georgia have muscled legislation through the state House that would roll back voting access

ATLANTA -- Republican lawmakers in Georgia muscled legislation through the state House on Monday that would roll back voting access, over the objection of Democrats and civil rights groups gathered at the Capitol to protest.

House Bill 531 passed the lower legislative chamber by a vote of 97-72. It now goes to the state Senate for more debate.

The far-reaching bill would require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be located and when they could be accessed and limit early voting hours on weekends, among many other changes.

“House Bill 531 is designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system,” said Republican Rep. Barry Fleming, the measure’s chief sponsor.

Democrats say the legislation furthers Trump’s lies and would disproportionately affect voters of color.

“It’s pathetically obvious to anyone paying attention that when Trump lost the November election and Georgia flipped control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats shortly after, Republicans got the message that they were in a political death spiral,” said Democratic Rep. Renitta Shannon. “And now they are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins."

Dozens of protesters gathered just outside the Capitol on Monday in opposition to the bill, chanting “say no to voter suppression” and “protect the vote.”

Alaina Reaves, the president of the Clayton County Young Democrats, was among the protestors. “We take one step forward and then you know these legislators are trying to bring us up to two steps back,” Reaves said.