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IPFS News Link • Georgia

Judge Upholds Georgia's Voter Citizenship Verification Requirements

•, by Tom Ozimek

Judge Eleanor Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a ruling on April 11 that dismisses a lawsuit brought by a coalition of advocacy groups nearly six years ago that claimed Georgia's voter citizenship verification requirements unfairly discriminated against naturalized citizens, who are more likely to be people of color.

Following a three-day trial, the judge ruled that all four of the plaintiffs' claims—including that the protocols violated multiple federal laws, the U.S. Constitution, and unfairly burdened the right to vote—are dismissed.

In so doing, the judge sided with a motion for summary judgment made in 2021 by the defendant, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who argued that the state's protocols for matching naturalized citizens' voter registrations with the state's citizenship records were "entirely reasonable" and placed a "minimum burden" on applicants.

Mr. Raffensperger argued that, in almost every case, the requirement was fulfilled by matching driver's licence or state identification numbers submitted for voter registration with corresponding records at the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) to confirm citizenship status.

When a naturalized citizen registers to vote in Georgia, their county registrar verifies proof of citizenship using DDS data. If that voter's citizenship cannot be verified through that database, the onus is on the voter to submit proof of citizenship within 26 months or their voter registration application will be canceled.

The plaintiffs have alleged that DDS data is often outdated, leading many naturalized citizens' voter registrations to be flagged and canceled unfairly.