August 5, 2021

Georgia's New Absentee Ballot Request Forms Require More Identification, Warns of Potential Fines and Imprisonment

By Thais Ackerman | 11Alive | August 5, 2021

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ATLANTA — Georgia's new absentee ballot request forms now require more identification.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office created the new forms, which requires people requesting an absentee ballot to write down a Georgia driver’s license number or state identification card number.

The previous ballot request form required voters to provide a signature match to verify identification.

The new form also adds a warning that voters may face fines up to $100,000 or up to 10 years of imprisonment if they are not eligible to vote or provide false information.

The change is mandated by the state's new controversial election reform bill Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law in March.

The bill was developed on the heels of the 2020 presidential election and Senate runoff election in which Republicans claimed there was widespread voter fraud — though no evidence of this was found — after the historically "red" Peach State saw wins for the Democratic Party.

SB 202 was backed by Republicans and passed in the statehouse on a party-line vote. Republicans fashioned the bill to tighten limits on absentee voting, including a call for changes to the no-excuse absentee ballot request rule in order to help reform the state guidelines.

Now, the new form states those requesting an absentee ballot provide other forms of identification if they don't have a state license or ID card number.

Identification with a voter's photograph, including a U.S. passport, Georgia voter ID card, military ID card, and more, are also accepted as alternative options.

Critics of the law and the new absentee ballot form say they are discriminatory, making it difficult for disenfranchised communities to have a voice. Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia, filed challenges in federal court in March.

“Georgia’s anti-voter law (SB202) is requiring voters to provide sensitive personal information in an era where identity theft is easy," Rahul Garabadu, voting rights attorney of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “Our lawsuit challenges these unnecessary and more burdensome ID requirements that will have the heaviest impact on voters of color and voters with disabilities.”

Kemp has defended the law and characterized critiques of it as based on "lies and misinformation."