A federal lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a Georgia law that has stalled the voter registrations of more than 53,000 potential voters until they verify their basic information. The lawsuit, brought by several civil rights groups, asks a judge to overturn Georgia’s “exact match” law, which requires voter registration information to match driver’s licenses, state ID cards or Social Security records. The legal action comes after The Associated Press reported this week that at least 53,000 voter registrations were flagged because of the law. Those voter registrations are on hold because of discrepancies between application information and government records, such as a missing hyphen in a last name or data entry errors. But potential voters can still participate in this year’s elections if they show photo ID either when they go to vote or beforehand. They can also mail identification to county election officials in advance. If their ID resolves the discrepancy, they will immediately become active voters eligible to cast a normal ballot on Georgia’s voting machines.
The “exact match” law has drawn criticism from voting rights groups that say it could suppress voters in the upcoming election for Georgia governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp is Georgia’s secretary of state, responsible for oversight of elections and voter registration.
The lawsuit alleges that the law, passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year, has a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans who want to become registered voters. About 80 percent of applications put on pending status were submitted by those minority groups, according to the lawsuit.