A federal judge is considering ordering Georgia election officials to ensure that hundreds of new U.S. citizens can vote in next week’s election. U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross heard testimony Monday from voting rights groups who say many newly naturalized Americans have registered to vote but are being turned away at early-voting locations because their citizenship status hasn’t been updated in government computers. Ross said she’ll rule quickly before Election Day on Nov. 6. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked Ross to order county election workers to put voters who have proved their citizenship on the state’s list of active registered voters. At least 3,667 voter registration applications are on hold in Georgia because their citizenship couldn’t be verified by state driver’s license records. But those records aren’t often updated until Georgians renew their licenses, so those who became citizens after receiving their licenses are being flagged by the state until they show naturalization papers or a U.S. passport.
“This is insane,” said Julie Houk, an attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, which is representing the plaintiffs. “These people should be able to vote. They shouldn’t have these hurdles.”
Many new U.S. citizens register to vote immediately after their naturalization ceremonies, and voter registration groups send copies of their citizenship papers to election officials with their registration applications.