ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia’s lieutenant governor is joining the governor and House speaker in saying he supports requiring proof of identity from someone seeking to cast an absentee ballot, but he doesn’t want to get rid of no-excuse mail-in ballots, as Republican senators have proposed.
Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan told reporters Tuesday that he supports the change even though he’s been outspoken in saying he didn’t detect any fraud in Georgia’s November and January elections. Many Republicans, recoiling at Donald Trump’s loss of the state in November, have claimed without proof that there were fraudulent mail-in ballots.
“I don’t necessarily identify a problem we’re trying to solve. I think this is an opportunity,” Duncan said. “I think the best step forward is for us to just look for an opportunity to create photo ID process.”
GOP state senators, whose support provides Duncan with much of his power and influence, have proposed eliminating no-excuse absentee voting. Broad mail-in balloting was implemented by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2005. Senate Republicans also want to ban ballot drop boxes and implement a photo ID requirement for voters that have a specific excuse to vote absentee.
Duncan said he was unsure if anything should be done about drop boxes. He denied that his different position would create tension with Senate Republicans, with whom he shares leadership of the 56-member upper chamber.
“We have a great working relationship,” Duncan said.
Democrats and voting rights advocates oppose ending no-excuse mail-in ballots, saying Republicans are reacting to their losses by trying to limit a form of voting which swung heavily to favor Democrats in recent months after attacks on mail-in voting by President Donald Trump.
Some Georgia Republicans have also called for changes in partisan terms. Alice O’Lenick, a Republican appointee to the Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, has resisted calls for her resignation after she told Republicans earlier this month that lawmakers have “got to change the major parts” of Georgia’s election laws so Republicans “at least have a shot at winning.”
Georgia’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, has endorsed the idea of ending no-excuse absentee voting, used by about 1.3 million voters in the November election - saying it’s too hard for counties to process large numbers of mail-in ballots. He also wants a photo ID requirement for absentee voting, despite repeatedly saying that there was no evidence of systemic fraud.
Duncan also said he would support giving Attorney General Chris Carr the power to present evidence of election crimes to a statewide grand jury, instead of relying on local grand juries.
“It just gives the opportunity to remove any sense of local politics out of it,” Duncan said.
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