Ge­or­gia sued over cit­i­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion

The Covington News - - Local News - By Greg Bluestein The As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW­NAN, Ga. - Vot­ing rights groups asked a fed­eral judge Fri­day to stop Ge­or­gia’s at­tempts to ver­ify the iden­ti­ties and cit­i­zen­ship of new voter ap­pli­cants, ar­gu­ing they amounted to a “sys­tem­atic purg­ing” of rolls just weeks be­fore the elec­tion.

The groups filed a fed­eral law­suit Thurs­day say­ing that the im­mi­gra­tion checks, which in­volve match­ing the applications with driver’s li­cense and So­cial Se­cu­rity data, must first be ap­proved by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

Ge­or­gia is not alone in be­ing ques­tioned about the way it has been ver­i­fy­ing voter records and “purg­ing” vot­ers from the rolls be­fore Elec­tion Day. Meth­ods are be­ing scru­ti­nized across the coun­try, in­clud­ing in sev­eral swing states that could de­ter­mine who be­comes pres­i­dent in a close elec­tion.

But Ge­or­gia is among sev­eral states with a his­tory of dis­crim- ina­tory vot­ing prac­tices that must clear an ad­di­tional hur­dle. It must get fed­eral ap­proval be­fore chang­ing elec­tion pol­icy un­der the Vot­ing Rights Act of 1965.

Ge­or­gia elec­tion of­fi­cials say they have no prob­lem sub­mit­ting elec­tion pol­icy to Wash­ing­ton.

But Repub­li­can Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State Karen Han­del said the checks were an ef­fort by her of­fice to fol­low fed­eral guide­lines to en­sure the in­tegrity of the vote and that those el­i­gi­ble are cast­ing bal­lots.

“We’re sim­ply try­ing to fol­low the law,” she said af­ter the hear­ing.

The fed­eral law­suit came a day af­ter the Depart­ment of Jus­tice said the state’s action to ver­ify cit­i­zen­ship us­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers vi­o­lated the 1965 vot­ing law be­cause the pol­icy did not re­ceive fed­eral clear­ance first.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment says Ge­or­gia of­fi­cials made some 2 mil­lion re­quests to check the So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers of newly reg­is­tered vot­ers — far more than any other state, in­di­cat­ing a change in elec­tion pol­icy. State of­fi­cials ques­tion so high a num­ber, since just 406,000 reg­is­tered in Ge­or­gia

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