ATLANTA (WJBF) – A day after dozens of voters protested outside the Georgia state capitol saying “Protect the vote” and “Say no to voter suppression,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp weighed in on the voting restrictions bills.
On Monday, state lawmakers passed House Bill 531, which would make sweeping changes to elections in the state. It now heads to the senate floor.
Gov. Kemp says voting reform is needed to restore public trust.
“A lot of Georgians have lost confidence. That shouldn’t be the case. We need to make sure that all Georgians, have faith in the process, Republicans or Democrats,” said Gov. Kemp.
A newly approved House Bill calls for limited weekend voting days, restricts the number of drop boxes and requires photo IDs for absentee ballots.
“I’ve come out very supportive of the photo id requirement on absentee ballots by mail, to make sure we have a secure process,” said Gov. Kemp. “Most Georgians support this, you do that in person anyway. People are upset that it took so long after the election to count all the votes. This will take away the confusion that was out there and folks not having confidence in the signature.”
Democratic state lawmakers say these changes will affect voters of color, and called the bill a form of voter suppression.
“We talked about early voting locations that are being closed or consolidated, an overwhelming majority of those are African Americans, of people of color. African Americans voted higher on the weekends on 104/159 counties in comparison to their white counterparts,” said Rev. James Woodall, the Georgia NAACP President.
But Republican lawmakers says these changes will help with election confidence and to prevent voter fraud.
“Just making sure that we are further securing the process. I’ve always had the idea that it should be easy to vote but hard to cheat.”
Gov. Kemp served as Secretary of State for nine years and managed the elections, and says voter fraud does exist in the state. Despite numerous recounts in Georgia, the current Secretary of State and other audits showed no examples of any widespread voter fraud in the recent two elections.