The Georgia House Committee on Governmental Affairs approved Senate Bill 463. This bill includes an amendment that would stop proactively mailing out ballot applications at both the state and local level. This comes after Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s office mailed absentee ballot request forms to 6.9 million Georgia voters for the June 9th primary in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Absentee ballots accounted for the major spike in voter turnout in the primary election, with more than 1.1 million voters casting their vote through the absentee-by-mail ballots, a record in the state’s history.
The committee’s Republican majority defended the amendment despite the recent turnout, saying that the program caused problems on election day, such as voters who never received their ballots and delays when they showed up at the precincts with their ballots in hand. Counties, like Fulton, faced processing delays when their elections offices were flooded with absentee ballot request forms.
The Secretary of State’s office already has no plans at this time to proactively mail out ballot applications for the August or November elections. While this is the case at the state level, local governments would normally still be able to mail out applications. This bill would effectively halt that.
Democratic lawmakers, such as Representative Renitta Shannon, argue that it is not necessary and that the ban infringes on the power of local election officials to send out these request forms if they wish.
The amendment still allows third-parties and other organizations to send absentee ballot applications to voters. The amendment, which is part of Senate Bill 463, was headed to the full House for a vote.
Update: The bill was recommitted to the Georgia House Committee on Governmental Affairs on Thursday 6-25-20.