22 October 2008

No compromise reached on voter verification

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - October 22, 2008

Civil rights lawyers and state attorneys failed to agree Wednesday on a solution to make sure qualified voters whose citizenship has been mistakenly questioned can vote on Nov. 4.

A three-judge court told the lawyers to get together over lunch during a break in a day-long hearing. The judges considered claims raised in a lawsuit that seeks to halt Georgia’s attempts to verify the citizenship of voters with a statewide database.

Without a compromise, the judges instructed lawyers for both sides to propose solutions to them by mid-day Thursday.

Federal appeals court judge Stanley Birch and U.S. District Court judges Jack Camp and Bill Duffey heard the case. The judges appeared inclined to order the state to allow voters whose citizenship has been questioned to cast paper ballots on Election Day.

“There are things we can do to ensure their vote … and yet not wreak havoc in the whole system,” Birch said.

The Secretary of State’s Office has raised questions on the citizenship of 4,538 prospective voters. Most of those flagged voters are among the 550,000 Georgians who registered to vote this year.

Civil rights groups, representing a Kennesaw State University student, filed suit on Oct. 9 seeking a halt to the matching system. The groups said it amounts to a systematic purging of voter rolls that needed to be pre-cleared by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act.


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