Georgia House Republicans approve bill that allows state police to investigate voter-fraud

The legislation would allow the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to search for violations of election codes. This agency typically works with local law enforcement in major crimes.

Georgia House Republicans approve bill that allows state police to investigate voter-fraud

Georgia House Republicans introduced a bill to give the state's Bureau of Investigations jurisdiction over election fraud and crimes, just days after Florida legislators voted to establish its own voter-fraud police force.

The 39-page bill passed the GOP-controlled state House late on Tuesday night. It would give the Georgia Bureau of Investigation the power to search for violations of election code. This agency typically works with local law enforcement in major crime investigations. The bill would give the state agency the power to subpoena documents and conduct audits with the approval of the attorney general.

This legislation also changes election administration. It comes after the broad election law passed by state Republicans last year, which added ID requirements for mail voters, and restricted the use of ballot drop box, among other changes.

Fair Fight Action, Fair Georgia Project and other advocates are mobilising to oppose this bill. It will now head to the Senate.

Election code violations are being investigated by the Elections Division at Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger is a Republican who refused to submit to the pressure of former President Donald Trump to reverse his loss in Georgia in 2020. He has been criticised by Trump allies. Raffensperger was removed from the position of chairperson of the state's Election Board in the division by the legislature last year.

"The way it has always worked up until this point is that Secretary of State's Office -- the people who actually f understand election -- they do initial investigation," stated Nse Ufot CEO of the New Georgia Project. He argued that giving jurisdiction over the GBI will chill voters.

The bill passed quickly through the legislature, moving out of the House within the last hours of Tuesday's crossover day -- the last day that bills must be passed out of one chamber in order to allow passage in the other chamber before the legislative session ends April 4th.

The bill would reduce the number of voting machines that counties must provide on Election Day. It would change the formula to determine how many machines must been supplied. This change is intended to take into account the high number of early voters and mail in the state.

Advocates warn, however, that this could lead to long lines at the polls. Ufot said that policy should not be based on the behavior of voters during a pandemic, as some people may return to voting in person.

The bill also establishes new rules regarding how outside groups can donate or grant money to election workers. They must request permission to offer donations and make contributions to the State Election Board. This would distribute the donations in an "fair and equitable" way. During the 2020 election cash-strapped counties applied for millions of grants from organizations to support their elections during the pandemic.

Voting rights advocates fear this will prevent nonprofits from donating water and food directly to voters. This is a year after the legislature prohibited groups from giving food and water to voters while they wait in line. It also keeps counties from receiving much-needed grants money.

The bill would place restrictions on how ballots will be handled prior to elections and remove the requirement that ballots must remain sealed for at least two years following an election. Third-party audits will be easier if ballots are not sealed. This is according to advocates. Advocates claim that unsealing ballots would make it easier for third-party groups to conduct audits.

Florida lawmakers approved a bill last week that would allow them to create an election crime police force. The bill will cost nearly $4 million to hire 25 officers from the Department of State as well as the state's law enforcement agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This money will be used to investigate voter fraud. A similar bill was also proposed by an Arizona Republican state senator earlier in the year.


 

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