Georgia set to pass new, restrictive election law

Plus, the latest from the Arizona AG's fake elector investigation.

Election Watch

The Georgia Legislature passed a bill last night that could have a substantial impact on the 2024 presidential election. Votes in both the State Senate and House fell along party lines. Senate Bill 189, if signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), would relax the standards by which one could challenge the registration of another voter.

The bill would “make it easier for people to file baseless, mass voter challenges, requiring all advance and absentee ballots to be counted within an hour of the polls closing,” according to the Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Should SB 189 become law, the branch plans to sue the state of Georgia.

Among a litany of other bureaucratic changes, SB 189 would also require election workers to tally votes using the printed text on a ballot, rather than using a QR code or barcode.

Most troubling, SB 189 would make it harder for rural and unhoused voters to cast their ballots. In the former’s case, the bill would ban the use of a post office box as a means of registering. This could have a substantial impact on rural voters, who often retrieve their mail at a post office because their ZIP code is too sparsely populated to warrant a postal route.

“Proof of ownership or rental of a post office box or private mailbox service address within a particular jurisdiction shall not constitute sufficient grounds to establish a person's residency within that particular jurisdiction,” the bill stipulates.

For the latter, those without a home address would have to use their county registrar’s mailing address, which would complicate their voting registration process. It could also violate the National Voter Registration Act.

“We know there is a national coordinated movement to challenge voters, to go and talk about how the voter lists are outdated and bloated,” Kristin Nabors, who heads the Georgia chapter of the voter advocacy group All Voting Is Local, told The Guardian.

“They’re just not. We have extremely clean voter rolls in Georgia. This is not a bill that we need, and particularly not in an election year.”

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, Arizona Republicans who were involved in the fake elector scheme to attempt to overturn have finally had their day in court — though some legal experts are questioning the efficacy of bringing the alleged fake electors before a jury. Kris Mayes, the state’s attorney general, is spearheading the efforts to hold the fake electors to account after they claimed in a written document that Donald Trump had emerged victorious in Arizona during the 2020 presidential election.

The cohort of 11 GOP operatives — which includes elected officials — have all pleaded the Fifth Amendment, the right now to incriminate oneself. Typically, those who plan to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights are not brought before a jury.

According to Paul Charlton, a one-time assistant attorney general in Arizona, Mayes’ strategy is a bit unorthodox.

“My view is that the better practice is not to call people before the grand jury who you know are going to invoke the Fifth Amendment,” Charlton told Politico. “Why? Because all that does is unnecessarily prejudice the grand jury.”

Indictments are yet to be handed down by a jury, but they could have huge implications for both the state and the country as election season looms.

One fake elector, state Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), denounced Mayes’ efforts at a press conference this past Monday. Kern claimed that the Democrats were "using lawfare tactics to bankrupt” him and block his run for reelection in 2024.

"I'm here in front of the Superior Court building this morning because I was an alternate elector in November 2020 for President Donald Trump,” Kern said in front of the Maricopa County Superior Court. "I was asked to step up, along with other ordinary citizens, and I chose to accept.”

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Jamie Larson