When a Georgia voter registration form is filled out with the name “Jesus Christ” or “Badeye,” it’s pretty obvious why it wouldn’t be processed. Other registration applications stalled by state election officials might well be legitimate, such as those submitted by new U.S. citizens whose citizenship status hasn’t been updated in government computers. There are nearly 47,000 voter registrations pending in Georgia because of the state’s “exact match” law that flags a wide range of potential voters until they prove their eligibility, according to data the Secretary of State’s Office provided Wednesday. The number of pending registrations decreased from 53,000 last week after accounting for duplicate records. The list captures registration applications for hyphenated names, nicknames, typos, citizenship status, incorrect addresses and other information that doesn’t match government records.
Georgia residents whose voting registrations are caught in the state government’s “exact match” system can still cast ballots this year if they show photo ID for verification. Those who do so immediately become active voters.
Several civil rights groups are suing the state, saying the broad net of Georgia’s strict matching process sweeps up too many people, especially African-Americans, who should have been registered without a holdup. About 70 percent of Georgia’s pending registrations came from African-American voters when just 32 percent of the state’s population is black.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican running for governor, said the pending voter list isn’t discriminatory. He said the problem was created by his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, who founded a voter registration effort called the New Georgia Project that submitted many incomplete registration applications, mostly from African-Americans.