Judge Orders Ga. Secretary of State to Release Rejected Voter Records

By Daily Report September 21, 2016

By R. Robin McDonald, The Daily Report

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Georgia’s secretary of state to turn over voter registration records related to the agency’s decision to reject, cancel or otherwise fail to add names to the state’s voter rolls.

In a case of first impression in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit, U.S. District Judge William Duffey Jr. gave Secretary of State Brian Kemp until Oct. 7—four days before the state’s voter registration deadline—to surrender the records to Project Vote Inc. In issuing his order, Duffey rejected arguments by Kemp, whose office is represented by the state attorney general, that the records were not subject to disclosure under federal voting laws.

Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said Thursday that the secretary of state will work with Project Vote to produce the documents that Duffey “has deemed responsive to their requests.”

On Wednesday, Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel for Project Vote, said in a written statement: “We are pleased that the court has recognized the merits of this case, and has ordered the prompt release of records. Decisions about who is and is not able to register to vote must be made in the open for our democracy to be fair and accessible.”

James Cobb, an attorney at Atlanta’s Caplan Cobb who is co-counsel on the case, called Duffey’s order “an important acknowledgment of the right of groups like Project Vote—and of all of Georgia’s citizens—to monitor the state’s voter-registration practices.”

Jonathan Ference-Burke of Boston’s Ropes & Gray, who also represents Project Vote, said the judge’s order was “an important and encouraging step forward for voters in Georgia.”