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Congressional Republicans introduce voting reforms in Georgia
voting Georgia
A person waits in line to vote in Georgia's primary election on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta, in this file photo. Congressional Republicans launched a bid Monday, July 10, 2023, to adopt election reforms modeled after controversial legislation Georgia lawmakers enacted two years ago. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson/FILE)

MARIETTA — Congressional Republicans launched a bid Monday to adopt election reforms modeled after controversial legislation Georgia lawmakers enacted two years ago.

Five GOP House members, including U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, introduced the American Confidence in Elections Act following a news conference in Marietta, part of Loudermilk’s 11th Congressional District. The Committee on House Administration then held a field hearing in Atlanta to hear testimony on the issue.

The new legislation would tighten voter ID requirements, prohibit non-U.S. citizens from voting, and end private funding of election administration, provisions already adopted by Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly during the last two years.

“This legislation is the most substantive and conservative on election integrity to come before the House in more than a generation,” said Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, the committee’s chairman.

Steil and his GOP colleagues drew a sharp distinction between their bill and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act congressional Democrats introduced in 2021, named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader.

Loudermilk described the Democrats’ bill as a proposed federal takeover of voting, a violation of the principle of federalism.

“I don’t believe the federal government should usurp the states on things [states] have the right to do,” he said.

Instead, the Republican bill would incentivize states to adopt the voting reforms outlined in the legislation. Those that don’t comply would face losing federal funds first authorized in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which Congress passed in 2002 in the aftermath of a 2000 presidential election that took more than a month to decide.

During Monday’s hearing, Rep. Joseph Morelle of New York, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said the GOP bill was motivated by Republican accusations of voter fraud in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election that statewide audits and multiple investigations have disproven.

“We’re here because Joe Biden won in Georgia and Donald Trump lost,” he said. “There was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia.”

Morelle criticized Senate Bill 202, the election reform measure the General Assembly enacted two years ago, for significantly limiting the number of drop boxes for absentee ballots, banning the delivery of food and water to voters waiting in line for hours, and prompting a deluge of unwarranted individual voter challenges that tied up local elections offices.

Vernetta Nuriddin, who served on the Fulton County Registration and Elections Board during both the 2018 and 2020 elections, defended Senate Bill 202 for putting an end to third parties sending out unsolicited absentee ballot request forms, a practice that was widespread in 2020.

“All the changed made by SB202 were needed,” Nuriddin told the committee.

Steil said Monday’s hearing in Atlanta was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta following the passage of Senate Bill 202. He blamed the decision on “woke” corporate board rooms that bought into a false narrative surrounding the legislation.

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