Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) precleared Georgia’s law and related regulations which require new voter registration applicants to provide evidence of United States citizenship with their voter registration applications. The law is Act 143 of the 2009 Georgia General Assembly, also known as Senate Bill 86.
Secretary Kemp stated, “This law is a common sense enhancement to our voter registration process that will prevent non-citizens from voting in Georgia’s elections. Every ballot cast by a non-citizen erases a ballot cast by an eligible Georgia voter. The voter roll protections in Act 143, our photo ID requirement for in-person voting, and our triple-signature verification procedure for mail-in ballots make Georgia a national model for election security and integrity.”
Act 143 was signed into law by Governor Sonny Perdue on May 5, 2009 and requires those registering to vote to submit evidence of United States citizenship with their applications. There are many forms of acceptable identification, including a Georgia driver’s license number or identification card number, birth certificate, U.S. passport, U.S. naturalization documents or alien registration number, and a copy of a driver’s license or identification card from any state whose cards comply with the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.
Under federal law, Georgia must obtain federal preclearance of any change affecting voting by filing suit in federal court or by obtaining administrative preclearance through the DOJ. On November 15, 2010, the State filed suit against the DOJ in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain preclearance of Act 143 and related regulations. Last week, after the DOJ indicated that it would consent to preclearance because the law did not have a discriminatory effect or purpose, the State submitted Act 143 and related regulations to the DOJ for administrative preclearance. After receiving that preclearance, the State dismissed its lawsuit.
In June 2010, the State filed a lawsuit against the DOJ to obtain preclearance of its voter verification process under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). That process verifies information obtained from a voter registration applicant with information maintained by the Department of Drivers Services and Social Security Administration. At the time the State filed suit, Georgia was the only state in the nation barred from complying with the HAVA voter verification requirement. After the DOJ determined that the State’s HAVA verification process did not have a discriminatory purpose or effect, the State obtained administrative preclearance and dismissed the suit.
Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.