House Democrats file legislation in Georgia to expand voter access

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House Democrats file legislation in Georgia to expand voter access

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Early voters wait outside Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registration and Elections in Lawrenceville on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

House Democrats have filed a pair of bills to expand access to voting in Georgia, including automatic voter registration when you apply for or renew a driver’s license.

The legislation follows what officials have called a record-breaking presidential election here, and seek to highlight ways the state could increase its voter rolls and make voting easier in local counties. It is largely symbolic, however, in Republican-led state Legislature that has favored stricter controls.

Among them, state Rep. Sandra Scott, D-Rex, has proposed in House Bill 20 to automatically register residents when they interact with the state Department of Driver Services, as long as they sign a statement confirming they are a U.S. citizen and otherwise eligible to vote. It’s been on the table before in Georgia but has never gained momentum, although six states and the District of Columbia have authorized similar models.

State Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, meanwhile, has suggested in House Bill 22 that local election officials may allow voters to cast their ballots anywhere they wanted in their home county on Election Day, instead of having to go to a specific polling location.

More than 4.1 million votes were cast in Georgia for the presidential election, breaking turnout records.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has lauded the state’s current election system as already being secure but highly accessible, including online voter registration access and a pilot program this year allowing residents to register via text.

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