Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday threw his support behind an election reform item that would require voters to provide photo identification when casting absentee ballots in future elections.
“It’s a simple way to make sure that type of voting is further secured, and it’s a good first place to start,” Kemp said at the start of the state’s legislative session, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s completely reasonable in this day and time, and in light of what’s going on, it would give all voters peace of mind and wouldn’t be restrictive.”
The news comes as Georgia is still reeling from a tense election season in which the state was aggressively scrutinized for potentially opening itself up to fraud. Record turnout fueled by mass mail-in voting helped Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and incoming Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof achieve victory in the state, which is traditionally a Republican stronghold.
Despite repeated attacks from President Donald Trump and his allies, state election officials, including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, insisted that the election was free from widespread fraudulent activity. Though in the wake of the election, Raffesnperger also called again for doing away with signature matching as the main verification method for an absentee ballot and replacing it with a photo identification requirement.
Kemp expressed more doubt in the security of the election than Raffensperger, but ultimately was not persuaded to take outstanding — and perhaps unconstitutional — action to audit or alter results. In Georgia, as in most states, the secretary of state is in charge of elections.
But on Monday, Kemp expressed that he unequivocally supports measures to tighten voter ID laws for mail-in ballots.
“We’re looking forward to working with the legislators on that,” he added in reference to reforming the mail-in voting system. “We’ve had great conversations making sure we have a targeted, focused agenda. The one thing we all agree on is election reform. That’s front and center.”
The prospect of future election reform, however, may come as bittersweet news to many Republicans in the state. Republicans traditionally support tighter election laws, but the fact that both Raffensperger and Kemp are calling for immediate reforms indicate that they, to some degree, do not believe the election was perfectly secure.
Democratic state Rep. Josh McLaurin appeared to press that exact issue in response to the news, saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There is no evidence or reason to believe our signature match system is insecure.”
Both Kemp and Raffensperger are up for re-election in 2022.