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Voting reform bills stall in Georgia despite elections problems

Bills could shorten lines at voting precincts

ATLANTA — A legislative committee will investigate the long lines in last week’s primary elections. Bills that might have shortened those lines, however, have stalled in legislative committees and are unlikely to get votes this year.

State law currently requires election day voters to vote at their neighborhood precincts. That requirement gave voters stuck in lines at precincts in Fulton County June 9 little choice but to stay in line or go home.  

But if the law changed to allow voters to vote at any precinct in the county, "if they saw a line at one precinct, they could have gone to another precinct where there was no line," said state Rep. Roger Bruce (D-City of South Fulton).

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Bruce is behind a bill that would allow voters to vote at any precinct in their home county.  

Another bill would require the state to send absentee ballots – not applications, but ballots – to every voter in the state without the voter requesting it.

Last week in Fulton County, many voters waiting in lines complained that they’d never received the absentee ballots they’d requested.

RELATED: Fulton voters wait hours for late voting

"If I send in an absentee ballot (application), I expect to get something in return so I don’t have to come out here and sit for two, three hours,” voter Cheryl King told 11Alive News June 9.

Rep. Bruce says his bill reflects the reality that voters are allowed to vote at numerous early voting locations in their home county – because counties can keep county-wide digital voter lists in every location.  

In Fulton County, it would have let voters stuck in line to chose from 164 voting locations.

RELATED: Secretary of State on Georgia's primary election: It's clear some counties continue to not perform

"They do it for early voting. It’s in the system. I don’t understand what the difference is between early voting and election day, other than people just don’t want to do," Bruce said.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office says it has no position on the bill to allow voters to vote at any precinct.  Other Republicans have also shown indifference to it; Bruce’s bill has stalled in a House committee for about the last 500 days.

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