New version of voting bill passes out of committee, adds back Sunday early voting

ATLANTA — A controversial omnibus voting bill is one step closer to getting a vote in the Georgia House.

The bill passed out of committee along party lines, but the it isn’t the same one introduced more than a month ago.

After facing criticism, lawmakers put back Saturday early voting and left adding Sunday early voting to the counties.

Alpharetta Republican Chuck Martin acknowledged many metro counties wanted Sunday voting, but added some rural counties did not.

“There are people who want to have this Sunday voting, but there are people I have gotten notes from this weekend that were smaller counties that did not want to have the burden to have to be open on Sunday,” Martin said.

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One GOP lawmaker pointed out that while she supported Sunday voting, there were an equal number of Black and white voters casting ballots on that day.

But Riverdale lawmaker Rhonda Burnough said by shortening voting days and making absentee voting more complicated, you can expect to see more African Americans voting on those Sundays.

“I’m sure that once we start to continue to reduce the number of days and the fact of who can get an absentee ballot and who cannot, that those numbers will increase on Sunday,” Burnough said.

The bill heads onto the House floor.

Right after it passed, House Speaker David Ralston issued a statement saying, in part, “By providing for expanded weekend voting and enshrining drop boxes into law for the first time, we are making it easier to vote across our state.”