The measurement, SB 441, gives the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) the power to initiate investigations into alleged election wrongdoing without a request from an outside official. Previously, only the Secretary of State’s office was tasked with investigating alleged election violations.
The Republican governor said the measure, which had already passed 98-69 in the House and 33-22 in the Senate, would help ensure a fair and safe election in Georgia.
The bill states that the alleged violation should be significant enough to create doubt about the outcome of an election. The GBI would have the power to issue subpoenas for election documents.
“Building on the strong, common-sense measures of our Election Integrity Act of 2021, this new law will allow us to hire highly trained staff from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to help ensure our elections are safe and secure. fair,” Kemp said. said in a press release.
The governor set aside more than $500,000 for new GBI investigators in the fiscal year 2023 budget.
Before the measure was signed into law, Democrats said they thought it would intimidate voters and election workers.
“It will not only be used against your constituents, but could also be used against organizations and county election commission officials or their employees,” State Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Democrat from Lilburn, told the House. earlier this month. “Again, they have enough trouble finding poll workers, and now you want the GBI sic on them. What are we doing here?”
House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, responded to criticism by saying the GBI authority was not a partisan reaction to the 2020 election.
“It was a good government move to ensure we have competent, professional and thorough investigators,” Ralston said. “GBI is the best there is in the state.”
The Common Cause watchdog group in Georgia also criticized the law, citing its costs.
“If the Bureau is now tasked with investigating anything that might create doubt about our elections, we suggest that it starts, first, by investigating those who profited by creating such doubt,” Aunna said. Dennis, spokesperson for the group, in a statement. statement.
“So many different groups and partisan extremists have worked to undermine confidence in Georgia’s elections,” she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.