“Where is the need for this bill coming from?” Said Democratic Representative Debbie Buckner from near Columbus. “From former presidents who wanted the election to be decided and thrown out, even when Georgia’s leadership told them they could not do it if they wanted to.”
Representative Zulma Lopez, who represents a majority-minority district on the outskirts of Atlanta, said the bill would have an outsized impact on voters of color. In his district, he said, the number of drop boxes would be reduced from 33 to nine. This was partly a result, she said, excluded from the deliberations of Democrats.
“Nearly 2.5 million Democrats voted in the 2020 general election,” Ms. Lopez said. “Yet Democrats in this House avoided any meaningful input into drafting this bill.”
Democratic state senators heard a similar voice during the afternoon debate.
“It’s like a Christmas tree for voter suppression,” said State Senator Jane Jordan, a Democrat from Atlanta. “And let’s be clear, some of the most dangerous provisions have to do with the acquisition of local election boards.”
In a sign of high tension in Georgia, Mr. Kemp’s speech was abruptly cut off after about 10 minutes. Park Cannon, a Democratic state representative, had tried to attend the signatures and comments, but the doors to the governor’s office were closed.
After the officers did not enter her, Ms. Cannon lightly knocked on the door. Two officers immediately detained him, placing him in handcuffs and escorting him through the state capitol. Neither Ms. Cannon nor the Governor’s Office responded immediately to requests for comment.
Representative Alan Powell, a Republican from northeast Georgia, defended the state’s bill, saying it would bring the uniformity needed for an electoral system that was pushed to the brink last year.