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Kemp, Raffensperger oppose voting rights legislation amid presidential visit

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta Tuesday to talk about voting rights and election integrity.

ATLANTA — Georgia's top Republicans held press conferences Tuesday in opposition to the national voting rights legislation being pushed.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held a press conference Tuesday morning where he presented four proposals he wants federal lawmakers to consider to reform elections nationwide.

The remarks from Georgia's top elections official came hours before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' expected speeches on voting rights and election integrity. 

"I am calling on Congress to take steps to strengthen our elections systems and restore the confidence that decades of stolen election claims have stolen from our elections infrastructure," Raffensperger said during his press conference. 

The Secretary of State's proposals include:

  • Amending the U.S. Constitution to ban noncitizens from voting in elections
  • Nationwide voter ID requirements
  • A nationwide ban on ballot harvesting
  • Federal law to shorten the blackout period for elections officials to conduct voter roll maintenance prior to an election

For his first proposal, Raffensperger pointed to examples such as New York and San Francisco where noncitizens are able to vote. In New York, recent changes have allowed for noncitizens to vote in city-level elections. In San Francisco, noncitizens are able to vote in school board elections. 

On the topic of voter ID requirements, Raffensperger added, "Voter ID provides confidence that elections are secure."

The term ballot harvesting basically boils down to this: If you have a mail-in ballot, someone comes to your house and collects it for you and later submits it with bunches of other ballots, collected in the same way - "harvesting." 

The practice is already banned in Georgia and now Raffensperger wants it banned nationwide. 

For his last proposal related to shortening the blackout period for list maintenance of voter rolls, he said "As we saw in 2020, the 90-day federal blackout period before an election makes it essentially impossible to clean the voter rolls during an election year."

11Alive asked Raffensperger if he was currently working with any federal lawmakers to see that his proposals are introduced in the form of a bill in Congress.

"I'll let the feds do what they do, I do what I do here at the state level," he replied. 

Raffensperger's staff later confirmed he isn't currently working with any lawmakers in Washington D.C., but as of Tuesday was simply introducing his proposals publicly. 

Gov. Brian Kemp also held a press conference Tuesday afternoon amid the presidential visit. 

"I'm going to stay on the side of fighting for the bill that we got passed last year," he said. 

Kemp vowed to make sure the state's newest election law SB202 that he signed last year stands and that it's fully implemented statewide. 

"I believe it does exactly what we needed. It restores confidence in the elections process here in our state," he said. 

The law brings voter ID requirements to absentee voting similar to in-person voting, limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes counties can have, revises times for early voting and allows the state to take control over what it calls "underperforming" local election systems.

Some parts of the law are already in effect, others parts are facing lawsuits from democrats, voting rights groups and the Department of Justice. 

"Municipal elections last year went incredibly smooth," he said. 

Kemp though is calling November's elections an example of SB202 in action. 

"I'm calling on Congress to take steps to strengthen our elections," he said.