Obama Justice Department Decision Will Allow Non-Citizens to Register to Vote in Georgia
Decision Bars Georgia From Continuing Voter Verification Process
Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel issued the following statement following the U.S. Department of Justice’s denial of preclearance of Georgia’s voter verification process:
Atlanta - “The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to deny preclearance of Georgia’s already implemented citizenship verification process shows a shocking disregard for the integrity of our elections. With this decision, DOJ has now barred Georgia from continuing the citizenship verification program that DOJ lawyers helped to craft. DOJ’s decision also nullifies the orders of two federal courts directing Georgia to implement the procedure for the 2008 general election. The decision comes seven months after Georgia requested an expedited review of the preclearance submission.
“It is important to underscore that not a single person has come forward to say he or she could not vote because of the verification process. Further, while DOJ argues that the process is somehow discriminatory, the historic voter turnout among Hispanic and African-American voters in the 2008 general elections clearly says otherwise.
As required by law and ordered by federal courts in October 2008, the eligibility of new applicants to register and vote is checked against the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) and Social Security Administration databases to ensure that individuals registering to vote report similar information. If information in these databases does not match information reported on the voter registration form, the applicant is asked to clarify the information. Additionally, if the applicant previously reported to DDS that he or she is not a U.S. citizen, that person is asked by a registrar to provide proof of citizenship.
Prior to the November 2008 General Election, Secretary Handel sent letters to 4,771 voter registration applicants whose records at DDS indicated they were not U.S. citizens, asking them to provide documentation of their citizenship. As of March 2009, 2,148 of these applicants still have chosen not to resolve the question about their U.S. citizenship.
In the November 2008 General Election, county election officials reported that 599 individuals cast a challenged ballot because the voter had previously indicated to DDS that he or she was not a United States citizen and had not resolved their status with county officials at the time of the election. Of those, 369 ballots were accepted because the voter provided documentation of their citizenship after the election; and 230 were rejected because the individual chose not to confirm his or her citizenship status.
On October 10, 2008, activist organizations including the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to attempt to prevent Georgia from verifying the eligibility of applicants to register and vote in the November General Election, including whether those individuals were citizens of the United States.
On October 16, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Camp denied the motion by MALDEF and ACLU; directed the State to continue the verification process; and acknowledged the State’s requirements to verify information under the Help America Vote Act. In his order, Judge Camp stated:
HAVA requires that Defendant Handel match information in the statewide voter registration database with information from the Georgia DDS and the SSA databases “to the extent necessary to enable each such official to verify the accuracy of the information provided on the applications for voter registration.”
Judge Camp also stated:
The 2008 elections were the largest in Georgia’s history, featuring record turnout among minority voters with the citizenship verification program in place. The figures below represent voter turnout statistics among Hispanic/Latino, African-American and White voters from the 2004 and 2008 General Elections.
Secretary of State Handel was absolutely right. The field in Georgia is now wide open for massive voter fraud. There is now no way to verify whether or not a person is a citizen of this country. Not by any far-reaching stretch of the imagination is citizenship verification for voting discriminatory. Americans can't vote in other countries' elections if they're not citizens there.
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