Throwing down the gauntlet. Drawing a line in a sand. Putting the Georgia General Assembly on notice.

Regardless of how one describes it, the underlying message that came out of Solicitor General Brian Whiteside’s office on Friday afternoon is that he will fight the state of Georgia in court if a controversial omnibus elections reform bill, House Bill 531, pending in the Georgia House of Representatives becomes law.

The latest version bill posted on the General Assembly’s website would, among other things, require voters to provide a copy of their identification when applying for an absentee ballot, limits absentee ballot drop boxes to being inside advance voting locations during the advance voting period and forcing local elections officials to chose between one Sunday or a second Saturday for advance voting.

“If Georgia H.B. 531 passes and is signed into law, the Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office is prepared to take legal action against the state of Georgia,” Whiteside said in a statement. “H.B. 531 poses an undue burden upon the citizens of Gwinnett County during a global pandemic by removing absentee ballot drop boxes and removing Sunday early voting.”

If the bill becomes law, it would roll back some of the expansions of voting options that have gradually been implemented in Gwinnett over the course of several recent elections cycles. Counties would have to provide at least one drop box, but they would not be allowed to provide more than one for every 200,000 registered voters.

In November 2020, Gwinnett had 23 absentee ballot drop boxes and 19 days of advance voting at nine sites. Under the changes proposed in HB 531, the county — which is on the cusp of crossing the 600,000 registered voters threshold — would likely be limited to about three drop boxes and no more than 17 days of advance voting.

Those drop boxes would only be available during the hours when the site is open for advance voting, and would no longer be available after the advance voting period ends, which is the Friday before election day.

The bill originally sought to ban Sunday voting all together, but was modified when it passed out of a House special elections committee to limit counties to no more than two weekend days of advance voting. One of those days would be the one Saturday voting day already required by state law.

Local elections registrars would have the option of choosing either the third Saturday before the election, or the third Sunday before the election for the other weekend voting day.

“The ramifications of H.B. 531 may increase the chance of possible civil disturbance and create a burden for local law enforcement and Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections,” Whiteside said. “The Gwinnett County Solicitor-General’s Office has a duty to protect the rights and safety of the citizens from any possible violent protests and unconstitutional actions.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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(14) comments

irishmafia116

Not your job Concentrate on the county there are a million things to fix here

hpytravlr

So he is admitting that he is breaking the law. He is using county time and money for a personal lawsuit. He should be arrested and thrown in jail immediately.

soulmanatl

What law do you believe he is breaking? The way I see it, he is simply promising the legislature that if they pass this horrible bill, he will do his job to ensure Gwinnett county residents are able to exercise their right to vote. It's been proven through multiple recounts that there were only a handful of fraudulent votes cast in the 2020 election. The only change being proposed that would have stopped those is voter ID. Limiting drop box numbers, location, and availability and weekend days of early voting would have no affect. It's simply the "Good ole boys" trying to keep non-white citizens on this state from voting.

CSFiles

Amen. Republicans just don't understand that they are the minority.

MissDaisy

Not quite. The SOS found a number of voter improprieties and has sent them to be prosecuted. The numbers are not enough to change the outcome of the elections, but the wrong doers should be held accountable. If they get away with breaking the law it further emboldens others to do the same and in greater numbers. No body wants to deprive voting; just want in done in a verifiable and secure fashion.

CSFiles

The voter fraud you assert is a statistical zero. Making any kind of news story about such a small number of voters out of millions perpetuates a FALSE NARRATIVE. That false narrative feeds THE BIG LIE that resulted in the violence at our capitol and a murder on 1/6/2021. It can be said that you are promoting violence with your false narrative. Are they going to tell us the party the alleged fraudsters voted for? It has usually been Republicans committing any actual voter fraud.

MissDaisy

Correct the numbers are small, as I said. However, small numbers does not make a false narrative (don't need to capitalize). If there is only one murder out of thousands (statistically small) should we ignore it? A crime is a crime. We are getting a bit far afield. The point was that a county misdemeanor prosecutor has no business nor authority to sue the state of legislation.

MissDaisy

The arrogance of this guy. A little man with a big ego. Whose money is he going to spend to sue the State; Gwinnett County taxpayers? His bizarre and abstract thinking should be a concern to Gwinnett County citizens. He is a prosecutor of misdemeanor offenses in Gwinnett County State Court; nothing more.

Cheesesteakbob

Amen, couldn't agree more. It is not his job to represent Gwinnett in this.

soulmanatl

It very much is his job to represent Gwinnett in this matter and the citizens that will be disenfranchised by the changes this law will bring to voting requirements. Just be honest, you would prefer only white, land owning men to be able to vote.

CSFiles

Actually, it is his job to protect Gwinnett County Voters. We went 60/40 Democrat in the last election. It seems to me you can't handle being the clear minority.

CSFiles

Thank you. Gwinnett County and all of Georgia need as much flexibility in voting as possible. I had to provide 4 forms of I.D. to The DMV when I renewed my driver's license and registered to vote. I should not have to do it again. Voting is the only time I use my full signature including middle name. My diver's license just uses my initial. We need a way to know what signature the state has on file for us. This situation actually creates a greater instance for signature mismatch.

MissDaisy

Voting might be okay to be flexible but still needs to be secure, and the current process is far from secure. As far as renewal of licenses at the DDS (Department of Driver Services), the extra forms of ID were necessary one time due to the federal Secure ID law.

CSFiles

3 recounts and a REPUBLICAN Secretary of State proved our Election was perfectly secure. Election voter fraud id a MASS DELUSION OF THE RIGHT WING. 100% Mail-In Voting is the best way to have a fair election and it already works perfectly in 5 States. Republicans know voter suppression works and is the only way a REPUBLICAN MINORITY can win.

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