Georgia Adopts Voter Reforms Based on Heritage Recommendations

HERITAGE IMPACT

Georgia Adopts Voter Reforms Based on Heritage Recommendations

April 8th, 2021

In a move praised by Heritage Foundation experts, Georgia enacted numerous election reforms to expand voting access and ensure the security of their elections.

In a move praised by Heritage Foundation experts, Georgia enacted numerous election reforms to expand voting access and ensure the security of their elections. These reforms follow on the heels of laws adopted in both Arizona and Iowa that also incorporated ideas from Heritage experts. 

Earlier this year, Heritage published a detailed report of election reforms specifically for state lawmakers to consider. These best practices, outlined in Heritage’s Feb. 1 report, were intended to strengthen election integrity in states, which have the primary responsibility for administering elections in America. 

Hans von Spakovsky, manager of Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative and senior legal fellow, praised the passage of Georgia’s voting reforms.  

“This bill is a big first step in the right direction to protect both access and security, which should be the key objectives of any state’s election process,” said von Spakovsky. “The state has made a good start on amending its election rules to reform the system and fix the many security vulnerabilities that currently exist—vulnerabilities that fueled the controversy over election results in Georgia in 2020.” 

A veteran in the battle to ensure free and fair elections, von Spakovksy has testified before numerous state and congressional committees and appeared frequently on TV and radio to discuss election integrity. As the bill was being debated, von Spakovsky wrote an op-ed for the Augusta Chronicle about the legislation. 

 

One of the glaring issues addressed by the Georgia reforms involves the absentee ballot process.  Georgia has required a government-issued photo ID to vote in person for decades—and the state provides a free ID to anyone who needs it. But absentee ballots skirted this requirement. They were mailed out to anyone who requested them, without regard to identity verification. The new law updates the requirements of absentee ballots to match those of in-person voting.   

In addition, the Georgia law bans the private funding of election officials and election officers to prevent outside actors from tipping the scales in public elections. During the 2020 election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg contributed supposedly “nonpartisan” grants to state and local election boards, but a post-election analysis showed that the grants were targeted to Democratic districts.  

Yet another reform eliminates “ballot harvesting,” a practice that allows third parties—such as political operatives—to “help” voters request and fill out their absentee ballots, collect them from voters and send them in on their behalf. The new law would prohibit anyone other than a relative or a person assisting an illiterate or physically disabled voter from requesting absentee ballot applications or handling or delivering the completed absentee ballots. 

Georgia’s reforms were also made possible by Heritage Action, which worked with its network of grassroots activists on the issue. 

“Heritage Action worked with over 20,000 volunteers who supported election reform, many of whom met with legislators at the very beginning of this process,” said Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action. “Thanks to them, Georgia is now leading the nation in free, fair, and safe elections—the rest of the nation should follow.” 

In the days since the law’s enactment, von Spakovsky has remained active to push back on the left’s lies and distortions about Georgia’s reforms. 

“The Georgia bill that was just signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp has many provisions intended to protect the security and integrity of the election process, not prevent eligible individuals from voting or from succumbing to thirst while waiting in line to vote,” von Spakovsky wrote for The Daily Signal. “You have to have both access and security in elections and the criticisms of Georgia are intentionally misleading, shortsighted, and show remarkable ignorance of how voting and elections are actually conducted.” 

Heritage Action also published a myth vs. fact report to clarify the left’s false assertions about the law. 

For more information on Heritage’s recommendations to protect election integrity in Georgia, click here.