ATLANTA – In less than two months, Georgia will help elect the 45th President of the United States. But a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday claims the state of Georgia is keeping some of its potential voters from having a say.
“To the shrinking white majority in this state, their days in power are numbered, and they are doing all they can to hold on to that power,” said Francys Johnson of the Georgia NAACP.
The Georgia NAACP is one of the plaintiffs in the suit challenging a policy put forth by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. That policy states if your voter registration application doesn’t exactly match your Department of Driver Services and Social Security information, your voter application is cancelled.
“We’re seeing folks who have more culturally affiliated names, and that’s unfortunate,” Johnson said. “So that’s the disproportionate impact as it relates to people of color.”
Another plaintiff, Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta believes the policy should be eliminated.
“We hope that this would really hopefully impact a lot of people over the course of time,” said Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta.
Data entry errors, typos, misread handwriting and missing hyphens are just a few of the issues that can cause a cancellation. But Kemp stands firm on his policy. His office released a statement on Wednesday.
“The verification process Georgia currently uses was pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010. This lawsuit is an effort by liberal groups to disrupt voter registration just weeks before November's important election."
While the state sees this as a way to prevent voter fraud, voting rights attorney Bryan Sells says very few states have this policy.
“It undermines the trust people have in our elected officials and in government when you fill out a form correctly and it fails to get processed as it should,” Sells said.
The plaintiffs say this is a simple fix. If there is a problem, flag the application. When the voter shows up to the polls, make them show their ID, and then, they can vote. They have urged the federal court to make a decision on this suit before the general election in November.