Bill seeks two copies of photo ID to vote absentee in Georgia

A Fulton County elections worker prepares to count absentee ballots for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff earlier this month at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Caption
A Fulton County elections worker prepares to count absentee ballots for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff earlier this month at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Georgia voters would be required to make copies of their photo ID and mail them to election officials twice before being allowed to cast an absentee ballot, according to a bill introduced Wednesday.

The legislation, Senate Bill 29, would create a photo ID requirement for voting outside of polling places in Georgia. Voters would need to submit ID both when applying for absentee ballots and when returning them.

The bill is the first major proposal to limit absentee voting after Republican Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden in last year’s presidential election. State and local election officials have said there’s little indication of fraud besides isolated cases.

State Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a freshman Republican from Dallas who introduced the bill, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment. State law already requires photo ID when voting in person.

Fair Fight, a voting rights group, said Republicans are trying to increase their chances of winning elections by preventing eligible Georgians from casting ballots.

“By requiring access to a printer, which many Georgians obviously do not have, Republicans are attempting to purposely take away the ability of many Georgians to vote by mail simply because they believe too many Democrats and too many people of color voted by mail,” Fair Fight spokesman Seth Bringman said.

More Republicans than Democrats voted absentee in prior years, but that changed in the 2020 elections. Almost twice as many Democrats returned absentee ballots in November’s election after Trump frequently criticized them. In all, over 1.3 million people returned absentee ballots in Georgia’s presidential election.

An audit of absentee ballot signatures by the GBI and secretary of state’s office found no cases of fraud among 15,000 ballots reviewed.

The idea of mandating some form of photo ID has the support of powerful Republicans in Georgia, including Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston.

Under the legislation, Georgia voters would be required to submit a photocopy of their driver’s license, voter ID card, U.S. passport, government employee ID, military ID card or tribal identification card. Members of the military and overseas voters would be exempt from having to return photo ID.

Staff writer Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this article.

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