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Central Georgia state representatives divided on GOP election bill

Opponents of the bill say the changes are a form of voter suppression and a reaction to Joe Biden winning the state's electoral votes

MACON, Ga. — Georgia House Bill 531 is one of a handful of election bills that are being discussed and voted on in this year's legislative session.

State representative Dale Washburn (R) was one of 97 who voted in favor of the bill.

The bill adds an ID requirement for absentee ballot requests. It also limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes and requires them to be kept inside of early voting locations. People can be charged with a misdemeanor for passing out food and drinks to voters standing in line.

"I felt like there were not any unreasonable changes that were made, [it] should provide more security and more confidence in the system," said Washburn.

Representative Patty Bentley (D) voted against the bill and says the misdemeanor charge is the main reason.

"Why do we have to add in making it illegal to give a bottled water to someone? If we're really not trying to suppress the vote, why are we even making giving water to someone an issue," said Bentley.

She says she also voted against it because of the provision that sets a deadline to request absentee ballots -- 11 days before election day.

She says, like many Democrats, she feels passing this bill is a form of voter suppression.

"If it becomes law in Georgia, then we don't let this deter us from voting. This should bring us out in even larger numbers to vote in every election going forward," said Bentley.

It still has to be voted on in the state Senate, who has their own version of the bill, and it could happen as soon as next week.

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