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Grade TL;DR

In 2021, the Georgia Legislature passed S 202 which shepherded in a significant number of anti-voter initiatives along with a few minor pro-voter improvements. Although most of the reforms enacted by S 202 were harmful, the bill went through numerous amendments and the version that was implemented was significantly improved from the earlier versions. In 2022, the Legislature passed yet another detrimental election law, while the Department of Driver Services (DDS) fixed a critical issue in their voter registration system. Because the Legislature ultimately scaled back many of their incredibly harsh anti-voter proposals in S 202 and DDS was able to timely identify and correct issues with the state’s voter registration system, Georgia received a C on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Georgia Started in 2020

  • Automatic Voter Registration: Front-End
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: No
  • Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: Strict Photo ID

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Georgia as of 2020, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other bottom tier states.

How Our Tier Compares:

  • COVI (2020): 49th
  • EPI Score (2020): 21st
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 6/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): FAIR

2021: Two Years Ago

Legislative Action

During the 2021 session, the Assembly enacted sweeping changes to Georgia’s election laws in S 202. While the omnibus bill included some positive changes, such as mandating county drop boxes and requiring weekend early voting, even those pro-voter policies came with strict limitations that didn’t allow counties to expand options beyond certain narrow parameters. Additionally, the bill imposed stringent ID requirements on absentee ballot applications and ballots and severely limited election administrators’ autonomy to decide what practices and procedures worked best for their counties.

  • S202 requires voters to include a GA ID number with their absentee ballot application and ballot as a shift away from voter signature matching.
  • S202 creates criminal penalties for anyone that handles absentee ballot applications or ballots outside of the limited authorized handlers, such as close relatives or household members.
  • S202 requires at least one drop box per county, with the option for more depending on county size and number of early vote locations.
  • S202 allows preprocessing of absentee ballots starting two weeks before the election
  • S202 requires counties to offer weekend early voting on Saturdays starting three weeks before the election from 9am-5pm with the option to extend to Sundays and extend hours to 7am-7pm, but no additional extensions beyond those are allowed.
  • S202 makes it a crime to provide food and water to voters waiting in line at the polls.
  • S202 prohibits election superintendents and boards of supervisors from accepting private funds for elections.

2022: This Past Year

Legislative Action

After making substantial changes to election laws in 2021, the Assembly made only minor changes during the 2022 session.

  • S 441 gave the Georgia Bureau of Investigations the power to investigate and prosecute election law violations that could potentially change the outcome of an election.

Implementation/Administrative Action

  • Georgia’s Department of Driver Services (DDS) addressed an issue in their voter registration system to ensure eligible citizens were receiving the same secure and streamlined experience they had in previous years. While these issues can arise in states from time to time, DDS’ response speaks well to their governance of their voter registration and voter list maintenance responsibilities.