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New ad on Georgia election law confuses voters

Some people have had a lot of questions about the ad endorsing Georgia's controversial law.

ATLANTA — There are ads already running about the new Georgia voting law.

Heritage Action for America spent $1 million on TV ads, and $50,000 on digital to run the 60-second spot.  

Some people have had a lot of questions about the ad endorsing Georgia's controversial law. It's important to note that TV stations can't change political advertisements - it's the law. The spot has to be aired in its entirety.

To dive deep into the issue, 11Alive turned to both sides of the aisle to get perspective on the advertisement.

The experts

Doug Teper is a former Georgia state representative and a political science instructor at Georgia State University. He's a Democrat.

The Secretary of State's Office Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, offered insight when it first passed. 

Who put out the ad?

The first thing to know is that this ad was put out by a national conservative political action group. 

"This is a very well-orchestrated, very well-organized group," said Teper. 

What does Georgia's new election law actually say?

Voting access

Counties are now required to offer at least two Saturday voting options and can add two Sundays if they want.  

Here's how Teper explained it.

"They're very tricky in how they do this. We have 159 counties in Georgia and every county has a separate election board. And in some places, they have no early voting, and in other places, they have lots of early voting. So when they say they doubled the voting, they could be opening early voting in places with a couple of thousand voters. And at the same time, they're suppressing voters in counties like Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, and Cobb that have thousands and thousands of voters," he said. 

So the claim that early voting is doubled in the state is false, but right after the session, Sterling said to call the law voter suppression was inaccurate. 

"The claims of voter suppression are as morally wrong and repugnant as were claims of voter fraud were morally repugnant and wrong. All it does is weaponize the election system," said Sterling.

Changes to requesting absentee ballots

Also under the new law, Georgians will no longer merely request an absentee ballot and return it. Voters will need a government ID to apply for one. 

They must also cast absentee votes at least 11 days prior to the election. There are now fewer ballot drop box locations allowed.

Disallows volunteers from giving away food and drink to voters waiting in lines

The other claim that's getting a lot of attention is about special interest groups And then there's all of the talk about handing out water to people waiting in line. 

 "I am not familiar with any counties that were providing water," said Teper.

Federal law already bans offering goods or money in exchange for a vote. Now, Georgia explicitly makes it a misdemeanor crime but said that the counties can provide water as long as they give it to everyone. 

As far as the special interest groups, prior versions of Georgia's election law already banned them from within 150 feet of polling places.  So that's not new. 

As of today, seven different lawsuits have been filed against the new Georgia voting law.  And a number of the claims made in the ad are at the center of the litigation.

No widespread fraud during last election cycle

Both Sterling and Teper agreed that the election in Georgia was secure and there is no evidence of widespread fraud. 

 "They went through an audit, hand recounts, we looked time and time again and just could not find where votes were counted twice," said Teper.


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