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In 2020, counties had the option of allowing two Sundays of early voting, which some urban Democratic-led counties chose to offer.
This year, Georgia Republicans initially proposed getting rid of Sunday early voting but backtracked following criticism. The state House voted for HB 531 which allowed for one day of Sunday voting.
In March Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law SB 202, which provides for the option of two Sundays of voting. They can fall on either the second or third Sundays before Election Day.
Sen. Charles Schumer said Republican state legislatures have "seized on the former president’s big lie that the election was stolen" and introduced bills that aim to limit the right of citizens to vote.
Schumer, the Democratic majority leader from New York, said the most "reprehensible effort" might be found in Georgia.
"Republicans recently passed a bill to eliminate early voting on Sunday — a day when many churchgoing African Americans participate in voter drives known as Souls to the Polls," Schumer said during a March 24 Senate committee hearing on S1, a federal voting rights bill. "What an astonishing coincidence: outlaw voting on a day when African American churches sponsor get-out-the-vote efforts."
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said that Schumer was wrong about the status of legislation in Georgia.
"They are not eliminating voting on Sunday," he said. "It did not pass the Legislature."
Schumer’s spokesperson said he was referring to two Georgia bills, HB 531 and SB 202. Neither one had made it into law at the time of Schumer’s remarks. By the time Schumer made his comments, lawmakers were on track to allow the option of Sunday voting.
In 2020, Georgia voted for Democrat Joe Biden and, in January, Democrats won the two Senate runoffs, putting the state in battleground territory for future elections. State Republican lawmakers then proposed bills that they said would protect the integrity of the vote, despite the fact that state GOP election officials said the election was secure.
Under Georgia law for the 2020 election, counties had to offer one Saturday of early voting. Counties had the option to provide an additional Saturday and two Sundays. Generally larger, diverse Democratic-leaning counties held Sunday early voting.
HB 531, a sweeping elections bill introduced by state Republicans in February, initially got rid of Sunday early voting.
Civil rights advocates said the legislation was a racist attempt to suppress the Black vote. Republicans rewrote the bill to provide the option of one Sunday of early voting, and the House voted in favor of the bill March 1 along party lines. But after Schumer spoke, a separate elections bill ultimately moved forward.
SB 202 passed both chambers along party lines with GOP support. And on March 25, the day after Schumer’s comments, Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law. The new law requires two Saturdays of early voting and provides for the option of two Sundays of early voting, Keith Williams, general counsel to Republican House Speaker David Ralston, told PolitiFact.
The law specifies that the early voting Sundays fall two or three weeks before Election Day, which means no Sunday voting is allowed two days before Election Day. The early voting period under Georgia law previously ended the Friday before Election Day; so, unlike in some states, Georgia already disallowed early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day.
The bill also shrinks the voting period in a runoff election, which happens when no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. Williams told PolitiFact that the new law will allow for Sunday early voting during a runoff if election officials meet certification deadlines and there is time left to hold weekend voting. That means practically speaking, we don’t yet know if Sunday voting will occur in future runoffs.
The shorter voting period for runoffs was among the objections raised by voting rights groups who immediately sued to challenge the new law. The lawsuit stated that "the change eliminates the guarantee of early voting on weekends, which racial minorities disproportionately rely on to cast their ballots."
Schumer said that "Republicans recently passed a bill to eliminate early voting on Sunday" in Georgia.
Schumer’s statement provides a misleading impression that Georgia Republicans completely got rid of Sunday voting. Republicans initially proposed getting rid of Sunday early voting, but by the time of Schumer’s remarks, the state House had passed a bill that allowed for one Sunday of voting. A day after Schumer spoke, a bill was signed into law that allowed the option of two Sundays of voting.
Schumer misstated the effect of the bill that Republicans advanced and ultimately passed..
We rate this statement Mostly False.
Georgia HB531, 2021
Georgia SB202, 2021
Georgia Public Radio, Georgia Republicans File Sweeping Elections Bill To Limit Early And Absentee Voting, Feb. 19, 2021
Georgia Public Radio, What's Similar (And Different) About Georgia's Two Omnibus Voting Bills, March 23, 2021
Georgia Public Radio, What Does Georgia's New Voting Law SB 202 Do? March 26, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Absentee and Sunday voting targeted in broad Georgia elections bill, Feb. 19, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday voting restored in elections bill, Feb. 25, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Voting restrictions bill passes House, March 2, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill to curb Sunday vote threatens Black ritual, March 16, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Metro counties offer weekend early in-person voting, Oct. 16, 2020
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sweeping changes to Georgia elections signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp; March 25, 2021
CNN, Fact check: Breaking down 10 claims about the Democrats' elections bill, March 25, 2021
TruthOut, Georgia Bill Would Criminalize Giving Water to Voters Waiting in Long Lines, March 4, 2021
Augusta Chronicle, Voting process hot topic in Georgia, March 4, 2021
The Hill, GOP-led Georgia House passes sweeping elections bill that would limit voting access, March 1, 2021
The Guardian, Georgia's Republican-led legislature passes sweeping voting restrictions, March 25, 2021
U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, The New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund, Rise, Inc vs Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, March 25, 2021
PolitiFact, Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results, Jan. 5, 2021
Email interview, Justin Goodman, Sen. Chuck Schumer spokesperson, March 24, 2021
Telephone interview, Keith Williams, General Counsel – office of the Speaker of the House, March 26, 2021
Email interview, Seth Bringman, Fair Fight Action spokesperson, March 24, 2021
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