(The Center Square) — With Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff in the books and lawmakers gearing up for the next legislative session, the state’s voting law is expected to be among the hot-button issues lawmakers address.
On Wednesday, the day after U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker, a Democratic state lawmaker said she plans to file legislation to modify the timeline for voting during runoff elections.
It would increase the time between a general election and a runoff to six weeks. The measure would also require two weeks of statewide early voting with at least one day of voting on a Saturday.
“The bill will address the shortened timeline for the election that led to various issues with voters receiving their absentee ballots in time, extremely long lines and many people not having the option for weekend voting,” state Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, said in an announcement.
“Despite record turnout, many voters were unable to participate, and as policymakers, we should strive to make the ballot box accessible to all eligible voters that want to vote,” Clark added. “This legislation will allow more voters more opportunities to vote in important runoff elections.”
Critics have argued that the state’s new voting law, Senate Bill 202, the Election Integrity Act, is a burden on local election officials. They have also criticized other portions of the bill, including a ban on “line relief,” which bars people from giving food and water to anyone waiting to vote.
Earlier this year, the Heritage Foundation’s Election Integrity Scorecard ranked Georgia second, behind Tennessee. Proponents said the turnout during Tuesday’s runoff — when more than 3.5 million Georgians cast ballots — vindicated the changes to the law.
“Georgia’s election system has been challenged and scrutinized and criticized and passed every test,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a Wednesday statement.
With Republicans controlling both houses of the Georgia General Assembly, Democrats will need at least some support from across the aisle to successfully advance their proposals. A spokesman for Raffensperger, a Republican, told The Center Square that the office supports a conversation during the next legislative session about the future of runoffs.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor