During their final session late Monday night, Georgia’s Republican controlled state legislature passed a controversial bill that “would give the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the state’s top investigative agency, the authority to initiate probes of election crimes.”

Under current law, secretary of state officials are charged with investigating allegations of fraud or irregularities in elections, and can call on the GBI for aid on an as needed basis; however Senate Bill (SB) 441 enables the GBI to “launch a probe without being called in by another law enforcement agency…[and] also gives the bureau the authority to subpoena election records with signoff from the state’s attorney general.” 

This legislation is another instance of GOP sponsored bills that are being passed in the wake of “former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.” Interestingly enough, Brad Raffensperger is the presiding Secretary of State in Georgia, and he became “a target of allies of former President Donald Trump after he refused to overturn the 2020 election count.” 

Last month in Florida, lawmakers passed a similar piece of legislation that created an entirely “new state office dedicated to investigating alleged election-related crimes.” 

Georgia Democratic state Representative Jasmine Clark, said “This is an intimidation tactic. It will not only be used against your voters, but could also be used against organizations and those county election board officials or their workers…They already have a hard enough time getting poll workers and now you want to sic the GBI on them?”

Advocates of voting rights are in uproar as they contend that this measure will more than likely serve as an intimidation factor to both election workers and voters. 

Common Cause’s Georgia chapter’s executive director Aunna Dennis, “noted it funds the GBI with close to $580,000 a year to create an ‘election police’ force…[and] called the measure a waste of taxpayer money…‘If the Bureau is now entrusted with investigating anything that could create doubt about our elections — we suggest they start, first, by investigating those who have been profiting by creating such doubt’…’So many different groups and partisan extremists have been working to undermine confidence in Georgia’s elections,’” The Hill reports. 

Cianti Stewart-Reid, the executive director of Fair Fight Action, a Democratic group started by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, called on GOP Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill when it lands on his desk, “SB 441 would undermine our democracy by giving new sweeping powers for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations that effectively green light the intimidation of both voters and election officials…As a result, this legislation would further burden the process of running our elections and embolden conspiracy theorists as well as threaten our elections workers.” 

Gov. Kemp has 40 days left to make his decision on whether he will sign the bill into law or not, and he is in the midst of a primary challenge next month against David Perdue, a past Senator who has been endorsed by former President Trump.