HB 531 “yet another policy proposal based on deadly lies and conspiracy theories”
ATLANTA – Today, the Special Committee on Election Integrity in the Georgia House of Representatives heard from the author of a 48-page omnibus anti-voter bill, which was first introduced today and quickly ushered to committee with extremely limited public notice.
Some legislators in the committee received the text of the bill mere hours before the previously scheduled hearing – which did not have HB531 on the original agenda. HB531 is presently unavailable on the General Assembly’s website, but a committee hearing and vote on the bill may be scheduled as early as tomorrow morning.
Within HB 531 are measures to: curtail absentee ballot usage in the state, criminalize volunteers who assist voters in the absentee and in-person voting process, reduce voters’ use of drop boxes by limiting their locations and hours, impose new burdens on counties to send out absentee ballots closer to elections but tabulate absentee results faster, eliminate Sunday early voting, and increase likelihood of election worker intimidation and interference in tabulation of election results.
The following statement is by Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the SPLC Action Fund:
“HB531, if passed, will not only curtail the voting rights of Georgians who turned out in record numbers during the 2020 general election, but the bill represents yet another policy proposal based on deadly lies and conspiracy theories that will only provide rhetorical support for future political violence.
“Elected officials who support HB 531 and other anti-voter bills introduced this session – whether they acknowledge it or not – give oxygen to the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The deadly insurrectionist violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 drew its rhetorical support from that Big Lie.
“HB531 is designed with the clear partisan benefit of Georgia Republicans in mind. As with dozens of other anti-voter bills SPLC Action Fund is tracking this legislative session in Georgia, HB531 is especially burdensome in its absentee ballot identification provisions. These new burdens will disproportionately fall on communities of color and other historically disenfranchised groups. Eliminating Sunday early voting blatantly targets a mobilizer of voters of color: Black churches that run Souls to the Polls operations.
“Extremists and conspiracy theory devotees will never be satisfied. Georgia legislators could pass every single anti-voter bill introduced this session. If election results are rendered by voters who overcome new, unnecessary hurdles that extremists dislike, they will still cry foul, still erode faith in democracy, still demand additional anti-voter policy, and still provide rhetorical support for political violence.
“Georgia leaders can at any time refuse to accede to conspiracy theorists. Instead of passing HB 531, they could:
- continue to assert the veracity of Georgia’s 2020 and 2021 election results;
- provide more resources to local officials to administer well-run elections;
- strengthen voting rights through same-day registration and expanding automatic voter registration;
- finally clarify laws of moral turpitude so that Georgians with past felonies can participate in the democratic process when they return to their communities.
“Today’s bill drop and rushed committee hearings are an embarrassment to Georgia. Providing rhetorical support to future political violence with no corresponding benefit to running free and fair elections should not be the objective of legislators this session.”