What you need to know in Washington: Voters in Georgia are facing new hurdles

Voters in Georgia face new obstacles to submitting mail-in ballots in the closely-watched runoff election because of changes to a controversial law passed last year, voting rights groups say.

The law cut the time between a general election and a runoff by half, making it harder for voters to request, receive and return a ballot-by-mail in time for the Dec. 6 election to determine the state’s seat in the Senate.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Crystal Greer, co-founder of Protect the Vote GA. “Voters are confused and organizers are picking themselves up.”

The mail-in ballot dispute is already the subject of a legal battle in Georgia over whether to allow early voting on Saturday because a day is lost to the Thanksgiving holiday. A number of larger, Democrat-leaning counties plan to offer it, but Republicans are asking the state Supreme Court to block it.

Georgia does not have a permanent mail-in ballot list, which means most people have to apply to vote by mail for the runoff, even if they voted by mail in November.

More than 248,000 Georgian voters cast mail ballots in the Nov. 8 election, accounting for about 6% of the total vote, according to the foreign minister’s office. In this election, the incumbent US Senator became the Democrats Raphael Warnock led Republican and ex-soccer star Herschel Walker by about 38,000 votes – less than the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. The seat determines whether president Joe Bidens The party is expanding its slim majority in the chamber after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

The shorter runoff was one of several changes in SB 202, the 95-page law signed into law in 2021 to change the way Georgia elections are conducted. In a speech in Atlanta in January, Biden attacked the law and similar legislation as “Jim Crow 2.0,” citing the notorious voting restrictions of the pre-civil rights era. Continue reading

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) at a campaign event on November 8th.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington [email protected]