From the New Georgia Project
the judge ruled in favor of the Georgia Secretary of State and against the New Georgia Project, the NAACP and potentially tens of thousands of new registrants caught up in a flawed system.
We are exploring all options with our allies to keep up the fight. But for now, we ask you to spread the word to get out and vote this year—the best way to fight voter suppression is to get out and cast a ballot. Early voting ends this Friday, Halloween, and then polls are open this Tuesday in Georgia at 7am through 7pm. Check out www.GAvotes.org for more information.
Thanks for your support.
-- Team NGP
More details about today’s decision below:
The AJC covered the story of two young people caught up in this system. [see below this email]
"We are deeply disappointed by Judge Brasher's decision, which acknowledges the burdens placed on voters but does not provide them with the relief of knowing that they will be permitted to vote in this election,” shared Representative Stacey Abrams. “The inadequate remedy of a provisional ballot should disturb every Georgian who values the right to vote. The New Georgia Project will continue to pursue all legal avenues available, not only to serve the voters that we know may be silenced in this election, but to bring transparency and progress to those who wish to exercise their franchise in the future."
The ruling followed Friday’s hearing where Judge Brasher heard arguments on the lawsuit that sought a writ of mandamus to require the Secretary of State and three county boards of election to promptly process voter registration applications submitted by eligible voters in time for these citizens to cast a regular ballot in the midterm elections. The plaintiffs continue to demand immediate action to ensure that every voter who submitted a complete and valid application be immediately processed and placed on the rolls. However, arguments from the defendants indicated a lack of urgency about the situation and questioned whether the failure to properly register these voters meets the “extraordinary” requirement for a successful writ of mandamus.
"This is about lifting up the ordinary citizens denied access to the ballot by the Secretary of State's flawed matching system. He actually claims, with a straight face, that he has no duty and no deadline under the law to ensure those voters make it on the rolls,” stated Dr. Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia Conference of the NAACP. “All in all – a republican appointed judge has backed the republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African American and Latino population. It is outrageous that Georgians’ rights are being ignored.”
During the hearing, plaintiffs warned the judge of the consequences of inaction, noting that without timely information, voters will not be able to vote at their assigned precincts and may be forced to cast provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are not frequently counted, leaving the voter without any recourse. Lawyers also noted several deficiencies and discrepancies between the Georgia law and the practices imposed by the Secretary of State.
“It is a sad day when a court shows such a lack of concern for the disfranchisement of citizens who are eligible and eager to vote,” said Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our sole concern is ensuring that everyone can exercise their fundamental right to vote without being stonewalled by their own officials,” added Arnwine.
The New Georgia Project, NAACP, and others continue to urge voters to contact their county officials and the Secretary of State’s office to guarantee they can vote by November 4. Additionally, Georgia voters who are confused or concerned about the status of their voter registration application should contact the non-partisan Election Protection national coalition’s 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline. Election Protection is working with the New Georgia Project to help those who have registered to vote in Georgia but have not received confirmation voter registration cards.
“Early voting in Georgia has been going on for more than two weeks. Each hour and each day that passes, thousands of my fellow citizens may be denied the right to cast a regular ballot through no fault of their own. I cannot imagine a more urgent moral and civic need for action than securing the right to vote. I am deeply disturbed by the court's lack of responsiveness to the voters of this state and the voters in the judge's home county of Fulton,” noted Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
From the AJC
Diamond Walton, 18, is a bubbly freshman at Columbus State University who is eager to vote for the first time. She applied in August to join Georgia’s voter rolls. She had no idea it would take until this week — three days after she submitted an affidavit in court — to finally get an official state registration card.
The question now is whether her experience is a sign Georgia’s voter registration system works or an exception to a flawed and complicated process.
Alexander Lakocy moved to Atlanta on Aug. 5 for graduate school. The next day, he ran into a canvasser for the New Georgia Project and filled out an application to be eligible to vote Nov. 4. It wasn’t until he called Fulton County last week that he discovered he’d been flagged as “pending,” according to a written statement.
Pending voters have to provide more information to confirm their identity. State law also requires first-time Georgia voters such as Lakocy to show identification when they first cast a ballot here — which might be hard since, he said, a county representative suggested she mail him a form so he could request an absentee ballot.
“It’s actually been really shocking to me,” Lakocy said Tuesday. “It’s easy to imagine most of the people who register are not able to be as proactive as I am to verify their registration.”
Fulton officials, meanwhile, said they have no record of receiving an application from Lakocy. They also wouldn’t be able to generate an absentee ballot for him even if he requested one, since he would be rejected as being unregistered.
FYI, if a registration is placed on the pending list, "the board of registrars shall notify the registrant in writing of the missing information" (GA Code). And if the applicant "does not respond to the request for the missing information within 30 days, the application shall be rejected". It looks like Lakocy was rejected (i.e. deleted) from the system. Minus 1 vote. Mission accomplished.
The GA SOS can say all he wants that this is not a "missing" application, but in reality it was a rejected application, where the applicant received no notification.
State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, who founded the New Georgia Project, said Tuesday’s ruling is not likely the last legal effort by her group.
New voters such as Walton, in the meantime, may wonder what they got into.
“I just wanted to vote,” she said. “I didn’t think it would take all this work.”
We have no idea how many voter registrations are eventually rejected (i.e. deleted) from the pending lists. Of those 40,000+ registrations, thousands are reportedly on pending lists (while 30 days elapses). But how many were already rejected/deleted?