ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp has wrapped up the annual bill-signing season by putting his signature to a package of election law changes backed by Republicans but criticized by Democrats and voting-rights advocates.

Kemp signed the three bills on Tuesday, the deadline for the governor to either sign or veto legislation the General Assembly passed this year.

The three-bill package marked the latest bid by Georgia Republicans to overhaul state election laws in the wake of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. Biden narrowly carried the Peach State, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Passing mostly along party lines, the package included:

  • Senate Bill 189, which makes it easier to file mass voter challenges, eliminates QR codes from paper ballots, and eases requirements for third-party presidential candidates to get on Georgia’s ballot.
  • House Bill 1207, which allows fewer voting machines on election days, requires poll workers to be U.S. citizens, and allows closer access for poll watchers.
  • House Bill 974, which requires the secretary of state to set up a statewide system to scan and post paper ballots at a minimum resolution and requires more audits of statewide election results.

Republican supporters praised Kemp for signing into law legislation they said will promote the cause of election integrity.

“Although there is always more work to be done, our new laws will ensure even more accuracy, safety and transparency,” said former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., now serving as chairwoman of Greater Georgia, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing voters and protecting election integrity.

“On the eve of a presidential election, Georgians deserve to have confidence that – despite the best efforts of liberal activists in our courts, our media, and our federal government – their votes will count.”

But a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had threatened to sue if Senate Bill 189 became law, said the legislation imposes more barriers on both Georgia voters and election administrators.

“SB 189 is a step back for voters’ rights and voting access in the state of Georgia,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU’s Georgia chapter.

“Most importantly, this bill will require already overburdened election workers to spend time processing unnecessary voter challenges. … We are committed to protecting Georgia voters and will see the governor in court.”

Most of Senate Bill 189 will take effect ahead of the November elections. The two House bills become effective immediately.