HB 974

By Content Team Two; Kendalynn, Malik, Isabella, Arianna

Electoral integrity has been a common topic of conversation ever since the 2020 presidential election. Georgia House Bill 974 has emerged as a focal point of contention and reform, but successfully passed. This legislation was introduced in this year’s Georgia General Assembly session and the goal of it is to overhaul the state’s ballot counting process by eliminating the use of computer QR codes and instituting stringent security measures. In a bid to foster confidence in the electoral system, the bill seeks to enhance transparency and mitigate potential vulnerabilities within the election process. As debates intensify over the future of voting protocols, HB 974 has sparked heated discussions surrounding the balance between accessibility and security in democratic practices. The Atlanta Journal Constitution provides in-depth coverage of the implications of this pivotal legislation, offering insight into the multifaceted considerations shaping the trajectory of Georgia’s electoral landscape.

Georgia Democracy Bill Tracker is an X account that features many updates about bills typically supporting democracy. In the biography, it states that the tracker is powered by Georgia Values Action, which is a fairly new organization focused on advancing policies that tend to the needs of the working middle-class of Georgia. The X post allows viewers to simply track the progress of House Bill 974, not translate the bill for the public. However it does briefly describe that the bill was created with the intention to have the Secretary of State publish scanned ballots in their database for the public eye.

“The Georgia General Assembly is headed toward adjournment – otherwise known as “Sine Die” – on Thursday.”

Tim Darnell of Atlanta News First, one of the city’s several news outlets wrote the above article. He graduated from Georgia State University and he now serves as the Investigative Digital Content Reporter for ANF. He has contributed to various stories defined by his specialty of investigative journalism. Currently, the main stories in his rotation are that of the Young Thug trial as well as Trump’s indictment. However, in the above article, he records a list of pending bills that were not passed and may have not been passed after the final day, or Sine Die, of the Georgia General Assembly. Georgia House Bill 974 was featured on this list.
John Mason, an outspoken user, shared the above tweet . Mason adds to the #gapol tag frequently, making his voice heard as a self-described “assertive pedestrian”. In the above post, he quotes tweets from another digital stakeholder, law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, that updated his followers on the existence of HB 974. Mason criticizes representatives in support of this bill because he expressed that he feels as though their priorities are not in line with Georgia citizens’ best interest at heart. Mason cites the example of recent cyber attacks and technical failures that need to be brought to attention to establish the unimportance of HB 974’s focus on the ballots.

“Six bills that could change the way elections are conducted, tallied and audited in Georgia”

Savannah Now News featured a news story about different bills that could change the way elections are conducted in Georgia. Maya Homan wrote this article for the Savannah Morning News and included House Bill 974. Homan described the bill as “ a bill that would allow ballots cast in an election to be uploaded to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website for the public to access…”. The author later goes on to detail how the bill would “increase transparency and public confidence in election results…”. Readers can use this article to learn more information about House Bill 974.
Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit that specializes in fighting for free and fair voting, published the tweet above. The organization is currently led by the Interim CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo who often speaks out against bills that may hinder voter participation or election processes, based on her activity on X. Fair Fight highlights certain social issues and disputes and why it is important for Georgia citizens to use their voices and participate in the ballots more in order to protect themselves. In the above artifact, Fair Fight draws attention to HB 974 and how it’s not designed to help those at the ballots who already face challenges going in and says it’s “steeped in unfounded election conspiracies” meaning that the purpose of the bill is only to put those who are on the ballot at ease.

“The ground rules are changing in Georgia elections. Again.”

Macon News featured a news story about how the next election could look for Georgia and the bills that could affect it. Dave Williams wrote the article and described it as “Requires secretary of state to set up a statewide system to scan and post paper ballots at a minimum resolution; requires more audits of statewide election results.”. The other bills listed alongside it are Senate Bill 189 and House Bill 1207, but the author stated that those bills are controversial but both deal with the topic of elections. According to the author many legislative Democrats are supporting House Bill 947 because it is less controversial than the other two.
Suzette Sizemore authored the tweet mentioned above and she has been on X for about 10 years and it is her only form of social media. They’re seemingly on the right side of the political ideology spectrum, although they are often criticizing Brian Kemp on certain legislation that may or may not get passed as well as other Georgia matters that may concern the community or government. In the aforementioned post, they accuse Governor Kemp of being corrupt and call Georgians to come together in order to keep Brian Kemp out of office in the next term. While Sizemore’s other tweets align with being in favor of Republican legislation, it seems as though she doesn’t care for Kemp since a number of her tweets are negative towards him.

User Jeff Obiewann, vocal citizen, posted a tweet from a digital stakeholder that expresses his frustrations with Kemp’s handling of House Bill 974. Similarly to one of the other artifacts citizens aren’t understanding why Kemp is trying to block the bill from passing, as expressed on X. This user doesn’t understand why Kemp is blocking the bill as there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the 2020 election. House Bill 974 was created to address and prevent the same confusion that happened in the 2020 election. In this user’s opinion Kemp appears to be standing in the way of Georgans having more of an understanding of election results. Based on language within the tweet, preventing more election transparency makes digital stakeholders concerned about people losing interest in voting because they feel their vote doesn’t matter.

David Cross, an election activist, posted a tweet from an election activist that believes that Kemp is trying to strike fear into the Georgia Legislature. Similar to the previous digital stakeholder, this user believes that Kemp is trying to block this bill and they have provided additional language that could be added to the bill. Their additional language provided would establish “a chain of custody” by using the US Postal Service restricted delivery option. Additionally, the user provided senate and house members contact information so citizens could contact them and encourage them to add that language within the bill. In conclusion, this digital stakeholder is focused on upholding this bill while adding more clear language, which is why they included their own notes within this tweet.

Lela Cherry uploaded a tweet that features several comments about supporting House Bill 947 and other similar election legislation. Since the bill is about transparency Cherry highlights this in her tweet by advocating that the bills will “end “unverifiable, secretly counted elections” in Georgia.”. There is an unnamed “him” addressed in this tweet as well and based on language within the tweet she is referring to Governor Kemp. A lot of other previously mentioned tweets have called out Kemp for not supporting the bill and therefore it is suggested that is the “him” being mentioned. Kemp is also one of the people Cherry tagged in the tweet. Also she added an important note about there only being 40 days left to sign off on the bill. Her tweet isn’t the only artifact that addresses Kemp when referring to this bill, as his name has been frequently tied to this bill in other artifacts. Mainly due to the fact that users have expressed their opinion on why Kemp could be blocking the passage of this bill.

Academic Article
“Evidence of Voter Fraud and the Impact that Regulations to Reduce Fraud Have on Voter Participation Rates”

Defending the Public published an academic article that dives into methods of measuring potential voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, revealing inconsistencies within the evidence. It examines discrepancies in vote shares between precincts with alleged fraud and similar ones without such claims, alongside how fraud could inflate voter turnout rates. While findings indicate weak evidence of fraud in Georgia and Pennsylvania, the study suggests measures to address vulnerabilities. This aligns with Georgia HB 974’s objectives to enhance election integrity by tackling issues like vote counting discrepancies and turnout manipulation. The bill’s proposals promote fairer and more transparent elections in the state.

To conclude, Georgia House Bill 974 stands as a contentious piece of legislation, stirring widespread debate over its implications for election ballot rules. The bill’s provisions, including stricter identification requirements for absentee voting and limitations on ballot drop boxes, have sparked concerns about potential voter fraud and erosion of traditional democratic ideas. Advocates of this bill argue that the bill enhances election integrity, while opponents view it as a form of voter suppression. Regardless of differing perspectives, the passage on April 3rd of this year’s Georgia General Assembly session HB 974 underscores the ongoing tension between ensuring election security and safeguarding voting rights. It will undoubtedly shape the landscape of elections in Georgia and beyond, hopefully with a positive outcome. 

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