Georgia’s voter registration process violates the Voting Rights Act and has prevented tens of thousands of residents, mostly minorities, from registering to vote, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday. Under a policy implemented in 2010, people aren’t added to the voter rolls if identifying information on their applications doesn’t exactly match information in databases maintained by the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration, the lawsuit says. “What Georgia is doing is denying people the ability to make it onto the registration rolls at the outset, which is what’s so problematic about this matching program,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The organization said it filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Gainesville, in north Georgia, along with other legal organizations on behalf of a coalition of civil rights groups.
Asian-Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta is another one of the groups filing the suit. Executive Director Stephanie Cho said Asian names can sometimes be confusing to state officials and that could keep people from voting. “Particularly Korean names, Chinese names, actually any Asian name. There’s a different hyphen that you can have, different spellings you can have — and all of these nuances confuse people who are processing what’s happening,” Cho said.
“It’s just another trick, another way to limit people,” Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot.
Rose said he applauds the lawsuit and believes Georgia’s voter ID law was created to suppress minority voting strength. “This is just a new wrinkle that the Secretary of State unfortunately has adopted to try and continue to try and suppress voting rights,” Rose said.