Legislation would add verbiage“BEARER NOT U.S. CITIZEN – NOT VOTER ID” to Georgia drivers licenses and official ID Cards issued to foreigners
Gwinnett Republican Rep Bonnie Rich leads the opposition to HB 228
It was to be an easy fix to a needless gap in election integrity. Unless Republican voters take to the phones and email, it appears to be dead. Rep Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) tells us her House Bill 228 has nearly zero chance of seeing even a committee hearing in 2022. The bill has an impressive list of cosponsors and is wildly popular with conservative voters. That is not the case with establishment Republican leaders who are under the thumb of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
HB 228 is a simple, “belt and suspenders” bill that addresses voter ID security and the drivers licenses and ID Cards Georgia issues to foreigners here as immigrants, guest workers, foreign students – and about twenty thousand illegal aliens with DACA protection. The credentials I mention are labeled “LIMITED TERM” and almost exactly the same as the ones commonly issued to U.S. citizens. Not many people, including most legislators, have any clue what “LIMITED TERM” means. Explanation: the valid term of the credential is timed to expire when the holders visa or “green card” runs out or renews.
HB 228 corrects the startling fact that there is nothing in state law that says these ID documents are excluded from acceptance as “proper identification” for voting purposes.
Related: Rep Byrd’s most recent column from Insider Advantage on HB 228
Senior Republicans have been told to keep this bill from passing.
Last year the most vocal Capitol opponent of Rep. Byrd’s legislation was Republican Rep. Bonnie Rich (Suwanee). As a sub-committee Chair in the House Special Committee on Election Integrity she refused to allow a hearing on the bill. We hear rumors Rich has primary opposition in May. We hope that’s true. Then chairman of the full committee, Rep. Barry Fleming, was a hero to voter security advocates when he decided to preside over an abbreviated hearing for HB 228 himself. There was no vote and the amount of ignorance displayed and misinformation put out by Georgia officials in that hearing was amazing even to this long-time denizen of the Gold Dome.
Fleming has since been removed from his leadership of the committee and Republican Speaker David Ralston has installed a freshman to preside as Chairman. I haven’t taken the time to count, but I am told there are more House Reps serving as Chairmen who were elected in 2020.
The heated objections to Byrd’s bill from Rich were that it was unnecessary because “non-citizens cannot register to vote” – so there is no need to add wording to state law making foreigner’s drivers license or ID Card ID ineligible as voter ID. Rich’s absurd assertion is contradicted by NPR, the Associated Press and reports from Michigan on the Motor Voter registration process also used in Georgia.
We doubt it will change Rich’s attitude, but voters need to know that last year a woman who is not a U.S. citizen was fined for voting illegally in Georgia in 2012 and 2016 according to the liberal AJC in January.
Related: Written testimony in support of HB 228 from an immigrant, U.S. Army veteran
HB 228 also requires the warning “BEARER NOT U.S. CITIZEN – NOT VOTER ID” to be added to the front of the LIMITED TERM credentials. Also, as mail-in vote security, the Department of Driver Services would begin a system in which the first two characters of the drivers license/ID Card numbers be “NC” on the cards issued to non-citizens. We would catch up with Alabama on that one.
Rep. Rich says adding that wording to the ID credentials given to foreigners in Georgia is unreasonable and would be a modern day “scarlet letter.” House Republicans recently elected Rep Bonnie Rich Majority Caucus Chair.
Why are senior Republicans told to keep this bill from a floor vote where it would surely pass? Because it deals with drivers licenses and is seen as a step away from the goal of increasing the number of foreigners with legal driving ability to get to work to make Georgia “number one for business” for another year. Just ask the leftist Georgia Budget and Policy Institute – and Democrat Secretary of State candidate, Rep Bee Nguyen.
For those who want to try to save this no-brainer bill, we provide contact information for House Boss Speaker Ralston.
We can’t help but note that there is plenty of time for this same voter security language to be passed in the Senate but that no Republican there has dropped such a bill. Somebody please send up a flare if you hear anything about this bill from the newly created state Freedom Caucus?