March 8 (UPI) -- The Georgia Senate on Monday passed a sweeping measure backed by Republican legislators to restrict absentee voting after the GOP lost statewide elections for president and U.S. Senate.
The Senate approved the far-reaching measure by a party-line 29-20 margin.
Among its other measures, the bill restricts absentee voting to those who are over 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town. It would also require voters to produce a driver's license or other form of ID to acquire an absentee ballot.
If passed by the state House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, the measure would effectively undo a 2005 law then backed by state Republicans allowing no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia.
Senate President Butch Miller, a Republican, told CNN the legislation is meant to boost confidence in Georgia's election system despite a lack of evidence of widespread fraud.
"I want every legal vote counted, timely and accurately, and I want better access for all voters," said in an issued statement, claiming the state's electorate "has lost confidence in the legitimacy of the system" after a 2020 presidential election in which a record 1.3 million people voted remotely -- more than a quarter of the state's total turnout of 5 million.
Democrats, however, say Republicans have embraced false claims by former President Donald Trump that the election was "rigged" against him after losing the state by 12,000 votes. Democrat Joe Biden's victory was affirmed twice in recounts held by Georgia's Republican Secretary of State.
Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock also narrowly defeated Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in January run-off contests.
"The purpose of [the bill] and all of the vote-limiting bills we have before us is to validate a lie," Democratic State Sen. Nikki Merritt said during Monday's debate. "It is to prevent massive voter turnout from happening again, especially in minority communities. Don't find yourselves on the wrong side of history."
The Georgia measure is one of a series of bills introduced by Republican state legislators around the country aimed at countering what they call rampant voter fraud in the wake of Trump's loss.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed a GOP-backed law shortening the state's early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day.
The measure also requires that absentee ballots must be received by county auditors by the time polls close in order to be counted, rather by noon the following Monday as was previously the case.