“Where is the need for this bill coming from?” said Debbie Buckner, a Democratic representative from near Columbus. “From the former president who wanted the election fixed and thrown out, even when Georgia leadership told him they couldn’t 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 outsize impact on voters of color. In her district, she said, the number of drop boxes would be reduced to nine from 33. This was partly the result, she said, of Democrats’ being excluded from discussions.
“Close to 2.5 million Democrats voted in the general election in 2020,” Ms. Lopez said. “Yet Democrats in this House were left out of any meaningful input into the drafting of this bill.”
Democratic state senators sounded similar alarms during an afternoon debate.
“It is like a Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression,” said State Senator Jen Jordan, a Democrat from near Atlanta. “And let’s be clear, some of the most dangerous provisions have to do with the takeover of the local elections boards.”
In a sign of the high tensions in Georgia, Mr. Kemp’s speech was abruptly cut off after about 10 minutes. A Democratic state representative, Park Cannon, had tried to attend the signing and remarks, but the doors to the governor’s office were closed.
After officers would not let her enter, Ms. Cannon lightly knocked on the door. Two officers immediately detained her, placing in her handcuffs and escorting her through the State Capitol. Neither Ms. Cannon nor the governor’s office immediately responded to requests for comment.
Alan Powell, a Republican representative from northeastern Georgia, defended the state’s bill, saying it would bring needed uniformity to an electoral system that was pushed to the brink last year.