ATLANTA, Georgia – House Speaker Jon Burns announced on Wednesday that Georgia voters can expect additional changes to state election laws this year. In an effort to increase transparency and voter confidence, House Republican leaders will work towards eliminating QR codes from the paper ballots produced by voting machines. Furthermore, they are considering enhancing the powers of the State Election Board, which may come at the expense of the secretary of state.
Since 2019, Georgia has implemented a paper backup system for electronic ballots to ensure the accuracy of votes. However, some voters have expressed confusion and have raised concerns regarding the transparency of the QR codes. Burns emphasized the need for voters to feel assured and confident when they cast their votes.
Another potential change discussed by Burns is the transfer of investigations into voter complaints of election fraud from the secretary of state’s office to the State Election Board. This shift aims to make the board more independent in addressing such complaints.
Georgia witnessed significant changes to its election laws in 2021 following the Democrats’ victories in the state’s U.S. Senate seats and President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state. Senate Bill 202 implemented several new provisions, such as requiring voters to show a photo ID for absentee ballots and limiting the number of absentee ballot drop boxes.
Aside from election laws, Burns also expressed his support for Georgia Pathways, a limited Medicaid expansion initiative introduced by Governor Brian Kemp. While enrollment has been slow, Burns mentioned that the governor has allocated additional resources to encourage more eligible Georgians to sign up.
On the other hand, legislative Democrats are advocating for a full-scale Medicaid expansion, arguing that it would cover more individuals at a lower cost. Burns is seeking input from House members on Republican-backed private school vouchers, which failed to pass last year due to objections from Democrats and some Republicans who felt it would divert funds from public schools.
Additionally, Burns showed optimism that the state Senate will rally behind a mental health bill aimed at expanding the mental health workforce in Georgia and providing better access to assistance for individuals cycling between the streets, emergency rooms, and jails. An earlier bill on mental health reform died in the Senate during the previous session.
In summary, Georgia’s House Speaker Jon Burns announced forthcoming changes to the state’s election laws, including the removal of QR codes from paper ballots and potentially strengthening the powers of the State Election Board. These revisions aim to enhance transparency and voter confidence. The state has already implemented significant changes to its election laws in 2021, such as photo ID requirements for absentee ballots. Burns also expressed his support for Georgia Pathways and private school vouchers, while legislative Democrats push for a full Medicaid expansion. Additionally, Burns hopes to garner support for a mental health bill to improve access and resources for those in need.