State Rep. John LaHood, the sponsor of House Bill 974, said it’s the latest step toward greater transparency and accountability in elections.
“Those who want to count for themselves and inspect can do so to their heart’s content,” said LaHood, a Republican from Valdosta and chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
Republican lawmakers have pushed dozens of measures since GOP President Donald Trump lost his re-election bid in 2020 and claimed the vote was rigged.
Investigations and recounts have repeatedly debunked accusations of fraud in an election run by state Republican officials in Georgia, but GOP lawmakers have continued to talk about the need to boost voter confidence as Trump regularly spreads conspiracy theories about why he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
LaHood’s bill requires the secretary of state’s office to create a statewide program to display ballot images for 24 months after each election.
Ballot images are already public records in Georgia, available at a cost from county election offices. Original paper ballots would remain sealed unless a judge requires their disclosure.
Ballots don’t contain information about who cast them.
Absentee ballots, which have received the most scrutiny from election skeptics, would be posted at the highest resolution available, according to the bill. Ballots printed from Georgia’s touchscreens could be displayed at a lower resolution.
The bill doesn’t include any funding, but LaHood said the expense would be minimal because the secretary of state’s office is already working on a ballot image website. The secretary of state’s office did not weigh in on the bill Thursday.
The legislation could soon reach a vote in the full state House.