New Amy Gardner for WaPo:
State Republicans have taken steps this year that could give them more power to sway the certification of election results, efforts that voting advocates decried as a blatant attempt to circumvent the popular vote, as President Donald Trump tried to do after his defeat in November.
Amid an avalanche of voting legislation proposed in dozens of states, the moves go beyond highly scrutinized proposals to tighten rules around how ballots are cast in the name of election security. Critics say some of the initiatives attempt to clear the way for partisan actors to take control of election administration, as Trump unsuccessfully urged Republicans to do in the fall.
On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia signed the most far-reaching effort yet into law — a sweeping voting measure that undercuts the power of the secretary of state and local election boards. The new law removes the secretary of state from serving as chair of the State Board of Elections, giving the legislature the authority to appoint a majority of the members, and authorizes the state board to suspend local election officials.
If these measures had been in place in 2020, critics say, the state board could have tried to interfere when the secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, certified Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the state and rejected Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen.
Raffensperger emerged as a staunch defender of the integrity of Georgia’s vote, even as Trump repeatedly attacked him and cajoled him in an hour-long conversation in January, urging him to “find” the votes to reverse Biden’s win in the state.
Separately, the new power to suspend county election boards could give state officials unprecedented influence over all manner of election decisions, including the acceptance and rejection of mail ballots, early-voting hours, poll-worker hiring and the number of polling locations, critics say.