Monday, November 15, 2010

Secretary of State Kemp Announces Filing of Federal Lawsuit for Approval of Citizenship Verification Process

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today that the State of Georgia has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The State is seeking preclearance of Act 143 of the 2009 Georgia General Assembly and its attendant regulations, requiring new voter registration applicants to provide evidence of United States citizenship with their voter registration applications. Act 143 is also known as Senate Bill 86.

Act 143 was signed into law by Governor Perdue on May 5, 2009 and requires those registering to vote to submit one of several forms of evidence of United States citizenship with their applications. Among the several forms of acceptable identification, applicants may use a Georgia driver's license number or identification card number, birth certificate, U.S. passport, U.S. naturalization documents or alien registration number, or a copy of a driver's license or identification card from any state whose cards comply with the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

Secretary Kemp stated, “Act 143 streamlines Georgia's voter registration processes by requiring first-time applicants to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship with their applications. With the voter roll protections of Act 143 in place, Georgia will serve as a model for election security and integrity.”

Under federal law, Georgia must obtain federal preclearance of any change affecting voting by filing suit in federal court or by obtaining administrative approval through the DOJ. In June, the State filed a lawsuit against the DOJ to obtain preclearance of its Help America Vote Act voter verification process, which verifies information obtained from a voter registration applicant with information maintained by the Department of Drivers Services and Social Security Administration. The DOJ ultimately granted preclearance of that process.

Brian Kemp was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2010. Among the office's wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.
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