Georgia House panel backs ballot inspections and fewer voting machines

Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

Bills to allow public ballot inspections and fewer voting machines on Election Day passed a Georgia House committee Monday.

The bills add to a long list of changes to election laws under consideration by state legislators, along with proposals to eliminate computer codes from ballots, investigate Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when there are election problems, and end automatic voter registration.

Under one of the bills that advanced Monday, paper ballots would be accessible by the public after elections are certified, subject to regulations that would be crafted by the State Election Board. Current law keeps ballots sealed after elections unless a judge orders otherwise.

“It really further ensures that we have citizen-run elections, that we have maximum transparency, and we have public verification,” said state Rep. Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire.

No one spoke against House Bill 426 before it passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill also cleared the committee last year but didn’t receive a vote in the House.


The effort to allow ballot inspections is a goal of Republican supporters of Donald Trump and activists who sued because they want to search for counterfeit ballots in the 2020 election, which Trump lost. Election investigators told a judge they couldn’t find any fake ballots, but Trump and his followers have spent more than three years saying the 2020 election was stolen without providing proof.

The committee also approved legislation that would ease the number of voting booths required in each election day precinct in statewide general elections. House Bill 1370 would allow fewer than one voting booth for every 250 voters.

Lines haven’t been a problem on election days in recent years, and county election directors told legislators they want more flexibility to deploy the appropriate amount of voting touchscreens and printers. The worst lines in past Georgia elections occurred during high-traffic days of early voting and the 2020 primary, when some precincts closed during the coronavirus.

Several other election-related bills under consideration by the General Assembly would criminalize deepfakes that impersonate candidates to deceive voters, add watermarks to ballots, increase the number of election audits, post ballot pictures online and ban ranked-choice voting.

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