ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp is claiming a legislative victory after the Georgia House voted unanimously to repeal the state’s controversial citizen’s arrest law.
Meanwhile, state Democrats are vowing to fight on against two big voting bills moving through the General Assembly.
Channel 2′s Richard Elliot talked exclusively with Kemp one-on-one about the bills that passed the House and Senate on Crossover Day.
“My position has been very clear on voting for a long time, even before the 2020 cycle: Easy to vote, hard to cheat, have secure, accessible, fair elections,” Kemp told Elliot.
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The citizen’s arrest overhaul and election reform bills in both chambers have gained national attention.
The Georgia Senate voted to approve another controversial voting bill. Like the House version, the bill requires voters to have a photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot.
However unlike the House, the Senate version includes a measure that would eliminate no-excuse absentee, something the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker have not supported.
“We’re definitely going to be weighing in and working with both sides to make sure we get a final version that, you know, has broad support and really does what we need to do to get and have secure elections in Georgia.”
Kemp does support the photo ID requirement for absentee voting. He said it is needed for election integrity and voter confidence in the system.
However, voter advocacy groups said both bills do nothing except suppress voting, particularly in minority communities.
The Georgia House’s top Democrat said both chambers need to slow the process down.
“What I’d really like to do really is really start at bipartisan study committee to see where we can actually increase voter turnout and not decrease it, and really think about how do you do countywide voting,” said Rep. James Beverly.
Meanwhile, Kemp has been pushing for the citizen’s arrest law repeal for nearly a year now following the death of Ahmaud Arbery and the shocking video that circulated months later.
“I think anybody that saw that just realized that’s not how this should be working. It’s not any excuse for modern day vigilantism, if you will,” Kemp told Elliot.
Currently, Georgia law states that a private citizen can arrest someone if a criminal act is committed in his or her presence.
According to the proposal, the new bill wants to repeal the current law and tailor codes to protect Georgians rights and safety. The bill also wants to eliminate loopholes “that could be used to justify vigilantism.”
The three men charged with murder in the Arbery case invoked the current citizen's arrest law as their defense. The law is now one step closer to repeal.
“I think we’re sending a big message as our state, my understanding, is the first state in the country to make a change like this. I think that speaks to who we are as Georgians,” Kemp said.
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