Georgia Proposes to Codify Harmful Voter Registration Practice

By Project Vote February 14, 2017
(Paul Sableman/Creative Commons)

This afternoon, the Georgia Elections Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs Committee will hear HB 268, a bill opposed by Project Vote. This bill contains multiple problematic provisions. Most stunningly, HB 268 would codify a harmful practice that led to litigation and a settlement agreement between Georgia’s secretary of state and voting rights groups, including Project Vote.

At issue is an “exact match” requirement that would reject voter registration applications if the information provided didn’t match exactly the Driver Services or Social Security Administration databases, even though it is known to be an error-prone and flawed process. As a result, the state needlessly rejected tens of thousands of applications from eligible Georgians. Worse still, the majority of rejected applications were from Black, Latino, and Asian citizens. After a lawsuit had been filed, the Georgia secretary of state signed a settlement agreement to enact key reforms.

Georgia lawmakers now seek to codify the very practices proven to disproportionately impact communities of color. If there is any doubt that voter suppression is the underlying goal to this bill, consider this: another provision would discriminate against Native Americans by eliminating Bureau of Indian or tribal treaty cards as acceptable forms of proof of citizenship. The state has long accepted tribal ID for these purposes and the federal government accepts them as real ID. And another provision would limit the ability of nonpartisan groups to help voters and answer questions outside polling places.

“If this bill passes, there may be adverse repercussions,” said Project Vote legislative director, Marissa Liebling. “First, it will deprive many eligible Georgians from making their voices heard at the ballot box. Second, it could very well cost Georgia taxpayers if further litigation becomes necessary. Both are incredibly good reasons for Georgia lawmakers to oppose these bills. We urge them to do so.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *