By David WalshThe Georgia House passed a bill on Thursday to overhaul the state’s election laws, the first step in the legislative process that will put Georgia’s elections on a fast track toward becoming the first in the nation to require paper ballots in November.
The bill passed a second reading with nearly all Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, but the Republican-controlled House passed it as a standalone measure without any Democratic support.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill as early as Friday.
The Georgia bill, which would take effect in 2021, would eliminate the statewide option, which allows voters to cast a provisional ballot by mail.
Instead, the new law requires voters to go to a primary or general election, regardless of the results.
The state already requires voters register to vote at least 30 days before the election, and voters can also register to register online.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has said he expects a similar number of voters to register to cast ballots online in November as they do on Election Day.
Kemp has said that he hopes the new bill will make it easier for people to vote online.
“The new legislation will ensure that people who are eligible to vote by mail in Georgia have the opportunity to vote on Election Night,” he said in a statement.
“It will ensure our elections are free and fair and ensure that our people have the ability to vote in their own homes, by mail, at their polling places and in other ways.”
The bill was passed in a bipartisan vote of 242-0, with all Democratic members in favor.
The measure had the support of nine Republicans and five independents.
The bill was the third piece of legislation that passed the Georgia legislature.
The measure also eliminates the state system of early voting and gives voters the option of registering and voting by mail or by going to the polls on Election Eve.
It is the first piece of statewide legislation to require absentee ballots.
Under the legislation, absentee ballots would not be counted if they are returned by mail and received by Election Day, but would be counted at the polls if the voter shows up in person on Election Sunday, and the voter’s name appears on the voter list.
The legislation also eliminates “paper” ballots that can only be used at the polling place.
The new bill does not require voters to show proof of residency, but it does require voters who do not live in the state to provide proof of citizenship.