Jon Greenbaum, chief attorney for the impartial civil rights advocate committee, said Republicans are “making extensive efforts to change the voting rules in a variety of ways to give them a greater chance to question the eligibility of voters,” and that the party “Would add micromanagement by state lawmakers to the process of conducting an election”.
State Representative Barry Fleming, a Republican who was the main sponsor of the Georgia bills, did not respond to requests for comment. In a bill hearing earlier this month, he defended the provisions, saying, “We as legislators decide how we are actually elected because we determine our own electoral boards and those of the districts from which we are elected.”
Georgia Republican Brian Kemp has not publicly weighed changes in electoral administration and oversight. When asked for a comment, his office only offered that he was in favor of “increased protection of the voter card”.
At the local level, since November, at least nine Republican counties in Georgia have passed local laws dissolving their current electoral boards – often consisting of three Republicans and two Democrats – and replacing them with a new membership, fully appointed by the district chair-party boards.
A new law in Iowa that restricted access to voting was also targeted against county electoral officials. The bill not only banned them from proactively sending requests for absentee voting, but also introduced criminal charges for civil servants who fail to comply with the new voting rules.
The threat of increased punishment appeared to be directed at three state electoral officials who decided last year to send postal votes to all registered voters in their counties, which drew Republican anger.
“We can now face severe penalties for being removed from office,” said one of those officials, Travis Weipert, Johnson County’s chartered accountant. “And instead of just saying, ‘Don’t do it again,’ they put the hammer down on us.”