March 26 (UPI) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed sweeping changes to the state’s election rules into law.
The package approved by the Senate earlier this month imposes voter ID requirements, limits ballot drop boxes and allows the state to take over local elections.
“I was proud to sign S.B. 202 to ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair and accessible,” Kemp wrote on Twitter after the signing. “I appreciate the hard work of members of the General Assembly to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
The bill also expands early voting for primary and general elections, but not runoffs, while shortening the period between elections and runoffs from nine weeks to four weeks, after Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won a runoff in the state earlier this year.
Other provisions would make it a crime for non-election workers to give food or beverage to voters waiting in line to vote and ban out-of-precinct voting until 5 p.m., requiring voters to sign an affidavit saying they can’t get to their assigned precinct in time to vote.
A provision that would have limited no-excuse absentee voting to those who are over 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town was ultimately scrapped from the final bill.
Thursday’s signing was met with protests outside the Capitol as Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon of Atlanta was arrested by state troopers after knocking on Kemp’s door in an attempt to witness the bill signing, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“This is a partisan power grab in response to the electoral defeat in the 2020 election cycle,” state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Democrat, said. “We will not stand idly by and let Jim Crow 2.0 roll back our new Georgia.”
Republicans in the legislature, who passed the measure with a majority vote, alluded to unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election in their support for the measure.
“Our goal is to ensure that voters in Georgia have confidence in the elections process,” GOP state Sen. Max Burns said. “This is a solid step in the right direction to provide voter integrity in Georgia.”
Former President Donald Trump in January asked Kemp to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn the election after losing to President Joe Biden. Trump said there was “no way” he lost the election, citing the claims of fraud.