New law removes Secretary of State from Elections Board, adds voter challenge options

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 189 into law, approving several changes to how the state conducts elections.

As written, SB 189 removes the Georgia Secretary of State from the State Board of Elections in addition to creating new ways for individuals’ votes to be challenged.

The legislation, now law, also makes it illegal for members of the State Board of Elections, the Sec. of State, county or municipal superintendents or registrars, as well as any full-time, part-time or contract workers in elections-related roles to provide goods or services to the state related to voting equipment or vote tabulation, auditing or processing, as well as scanning ballots.

Different parts of the bill will take effect at different times, though the bulk of them take effect July 1.

Additionally, SB 189 allows candidates to qualify as presidential electors so long as their political party or political body has gotten on the ballot in at least 20 states, receiving access to Georgia ballots.

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Under the bill’s provisions, as related to elections, homeless individuals without a permanent address will have their mailing address for elections set as the registrar’s office of their county of residence by default.

The bill also created new ways to challenge the voting eligibility of registered voters based on several criteria.

SB 189 makes it so that having proof of owning or renting a post office box or private mailbox service in a particular voting jurisdiction will no longer count as proof of residency as it relates to voting.

Individuals who register to vote in another state, county, municipality or legislative district of any type, it will be recorded as changing residency. If the individual then returns to their original residence after voting or registering to vote elsewhere, the state will require they update their registration in order to be considered a valid resident and elector for voting purposes.


Change of contact information filed with the National Change of Address program of the U.S. Postal Service will now also be considered when determining if a voter is eligible for voting in elections in different jurisdictions.

As a result of these adjustments, the bill creates a probable cause provision for individuals to challenge voters and their eligibility.

The provision includes changes of address, death records and registration at nonresidential address as potential probable causes to invalidate someone’s right to vote in specific jurisdictions.

Having a person’s name on the National Change of Address database is not enough to challenge someone’s voting eligibility, according to the legislation.

Anyone challenging a person’s right to vote within 45 days of a primary, run-off primary, election or run-off election will have the challenge postponed until the election process has finished, per SB 189. The bill also bans the use of QR codes on ballots, requiring that a vote’s approval for tabulation must be due to marks on the text portion that clearly show a voter’s choice, rather than other markings, codes or symbols.

The bill also requires all absentee ballots have to be counted by 8 p.m. on the day of a primary, election or runoff, or within one hour of poll closure, whichever is a later time. Boards of registrars and absentee ballot clerks are now also required to not only store ballots securely but document authorized access to absentee ballots after receiving them. Absentee ballots are required to be stored in sealed containers prior to election counting processes.

Several organizations plan to contest SB 189, including both Fair Fight Action and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“By signing SB 189 to become law, Brian Kemp delivered a gift to MAGA election deniers. He’s solidified his legacy as a vote suppressor, building on his signature anti-voter law from 2021 with a new law inspired by conspiracy theorists who continue to dispute the results of the 2020 election. With a new election on the horizon, Kemp is buttressing his pledge to MAGA, giving them new power to target Black, brown, rural, unhoused, and disabled populations and legislating harassment for already overburdened election workers. But in spite of every barrier formed against them, Georgians continue to show up to vote. And we will not stop fighting to ensure free and fair elections for all,” Fair Fight Action said in a statement.

Similarly, the ACLU pushed back on the bill, saying it adds barriers to voters and election administrators in Georgia while lowering barriers for what it said were biased and baseless voter challenges.

“SB 189 is a step back for voters’ rights and voting access in the state of Georgia,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia said in a statement. “Most importantly, this bill will require already overburdened election workers to spend time processing unnecessary voter challenges. As always, elected state officials should work to make voting easier and not more difficult for Georgia citizens. We are committed to protecting Georgia voters and will see the governor in court.”

Fair Fight Action is expected to host a briefing on opposition to the legislation Wednesday morning.

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