Dougherty Co. political parties react to state voter bills

Dougherty Co. political parties react to state voter bills
"Vote Here" sign (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - State election bills that would change rules around absentee voting inch closer to becoming law. This comes after record absentee voting in the last General Election.

Dougherty County GOP and Democratic chairmen discussed the legislation.

Senate Bill 241 requires absentee voters to be over the age of 65, have a disability, or be out of town on Election Day. You must provide identification when applying.

“I’ve been in Dougherty County my whole life,” said Dougherty County Democratic Chair James Williams. “We deal with challenges and issues and we get past those issues. Dougherty has voted in the past and made history in January. We will adapt to whatever the law tells us to do. It’s just ironic that they’re changing in the middle of the stream when they lost the election.”

Dougherty Co. Democratic Chair James Williams
Dougherty Co. Democratic Chair James Williams (Source: WALB)

Another recent piece of legislation is House Bill 531. It requires ballot boxes to be inside locations versus outside. It limits weekend voting and makes offering food and water to voters standing in line a misdemeanor.

“This bill is going to affect not only Republicans and Democrats, but it will affect people. When you see people standing in line, it’s not just Black people, but white people, Hispanic and Indians also, standing in line and we weren’t discriminating who we gave refreshments to,” said Williams.

The Secretary of State’s Office reported that it found no widespread evidence of voter fraud in Georgia’s 2020 General Election. Republican Party Chairman Tracy Taylor said the new legislation is preventative.

Tracy Taylor, Dougherty County Republican Party Chairman (Source: WALB)
Tracy Taylor, Dougherty County Republican Party Chairman (Source: WALB)

“To ensure that no election fraud will take place,” said Taylor. “And we feel like requiring a voter to submit their driver’s license or photo I.D. for an absentee ballot, we feel like that is perfectly fine. I mean, as a driver, you are required to have a driver’s license.”

Taylor said that not all Southwest Georgia Republicans are fully on board with all aspects of the state legislation.

“I do believe weekend hours of voting should be extended, but I also agree that the drop boxes need to be secured in a building and they need to be monitored at all times,” said Taylor.

Taylor said both parties want to make sure people have ways to get to the polls.

Democratic Chairman Williams said party members are organizing and speaking to the community.

“And strategizing as we speak with church leaders and young people, especially every day to educate them about the importance of this bill,” said Williams.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.