A letter indicating Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s action to suspend voter registration requirements so far hasn’t produced any necessary action for local elections officials.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Russell Willard filed the letter last week with Senior U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley in regard to a lawsuit brought by the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and two other plaintiffs against Kemp, which deals with the process requiring a person’s voter registration information to match other government databases.
If there is an issue that needs to be resolved and isn’t within 40 days, those registrations are invalidated. The letter states that in the first of three teleconferences between state attorneys and attorneys for the plaintiffs, counsel representing Kemp advised that the process was suspended pending further action of the court or an agreement with the plaintiffs.
Attorneys for the state further advised, according to the letter, “the Secretary of State’s Office is attempting to update the voter registration system so that every applicant who was cancelled for not responding to a notice that there was a non-match with information on file” going back to Jan. 1, 2015 would be moved back to pending status so they could resolve the problem.
It also allows those residents to cast regular — not provisional — ballots in the November elections as long as they carry the proper identification with them to the polls.
The Secretary of State’s Office is attempting to apply that same standard to applications going back to Oct. 1, 2014, but Williard noted in the letter the further back state personnel go, the more it causes problems with database stability, “particularly regarding districting voters.”
Counsel for both sides formally agreed to the deal in a teleconference Monday afternoon in which the plaintiffs’ counsel would withdraw their emergency motion for preliminary injunction filed Sept. 14. The court also granted a defense continuance of 60 days to further address pleadings in the matter.
The state NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, along with support from others allege the law disproportionately affects and limits the political participation of minority voters, and as such is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
According to a statistic cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state rejected 34,874 voter registration applications under the law dating back to 2013.
At present, though, the state hasn’t directed any necessary moves locally to accommodate the process outlined in the letter.
“They have not communicated to us regarding that issue or any impending lawsuit,” said Tina Edwards, supervisor of the Glynn County Office of the Board of Elections and Registration, this week. “I mean, I read the papers like anyone else, but that’s about as much as I know.”
She added, “We don’t have any official election bulletin regarding any action that we have to take. Usually we get instructions in that format, and I haven’t gotten anything regarding that.”