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'Easy to vote and hard to cheat': Central Georgia representatives react to Georgia elections law

Three Central Georgia State Representatives say the most important things to them are a secure election and raising confidence in the state's election system

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 202 into law on Thursday. 

While getting his COVID-19 shot on Friday, he discussed the controversial law.

"Well, it wasn't a voting rights bill, it was an election security bill that actually increases early voting opportunities on the weekend here in Georgia, also requires a photo ID for absentee-by-mail, just like when you vote in person. I think it will allow Georgia to have secure and fair elections," says Kemp.

Republicans in Houston and Bibb County say they are happy with the law and just want to raise confidence in Georgia's elections.

We spoke to three Republican State Representatives to hear why they think now was the time to pass this bill.

Houston County Republican State Representative Shaw Blackmon says he is pleased with the law.

"I think there are a lot of good things that are going to help the security of our elections moving forward and preserving access at the same time."

He says he doesn't believe S.B. 202 was solely a reaction to the 2020 election and the claims of widespread voter fraud.

"This is something that we are reviewing constantly to make our elections more fair more accessible and more transparent and secure," says Blackmon.

Bibb and Monroe County State Representative Dale Washburn says the most important thing is rebuilding trust in Georgia's election system after 2020.

"There was a lot of misinformation. I believe that caused a lot of anxiety and caused a lot of the lack of confidence."

He says strengthening voter verification is a good place to start.

"Most of the time with anything of substance, in our day to day life, it is not out of the question to have to show some form of ID."

He says he doesn't believe these reforms are a form of voter suppression, as some have argued.

"The constant chant of 'voter suppression' is just rhetoric. The realities are that we have ample opportunity for people to vote and it is reasonable to ask that a voter prove that the voter himself, or herself, is actually casting the ballot."

Representative Heath Clark, who represents Houston County, says a lot of these changes came from seeing an election cycle like never before.

"We've never had the amount of absentee ballots that we had this last year. The pandemic exposed a lot of things across the state."

He says the absentee ballot drop boxes were new last year and this law will allow those to become a regular part of the voting process.

"The Secretary of State allowed for drop boxes. Well, those were never done before. What we've done now is codify the drop boxes because if we didn't codify them, they were going to go away. They were just issued under the 'State of Emergency.'"

Clark says he does not believe the law makes it harder for anyone to vote.

"We have more access to the polls. We have more days of voting. We're still allowing the 'no excuse' absentee ballots. We're just putting guardrails on those processes to make sure that every legal vote is cast and that it's easy to vote and hard to cheat," says Clark.

All three said it's important for people to trust the state's election system and that the new law will help achieve that.

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