U.S. Justice Department rejects Georgia voter screening

Update in bold below, at 5:25 p.m.

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected a program put together by Secretary of State Karen Handel to comb through state databases to detect ineligible voters who may not be U.S. citizens, calling it both inaccurate and discriminatory.

The system was used last year, in the months before the 2008 general election.

Download the DOJ letter here. It says, in part:

We have considered the accuracy of the state’s verification process. Our analysis shows that the state’s process does not produce accurate and reliable information and that thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged….

An error as simple as transposition of one digit of a driver[s] license can lead to an erroneous notation of a non-match…..

….Although the state has not provided data on the racial and language minority characteristics of all registrants whose applications went through the verification process, we have been able to compare the composition of those persons whom the state has flagged for further inquiry because of a non-match with both the composition of newly registered voters in the state and the composition of existing registered voters….

[A]pplicants who are Hispanic, Asian or African-American are more likely than white applicants, to statistically significant degrees, to be flagged for additional scrutiny….

The Justice Department declined to share the stats that it said proved discrimination. “Internal deliberations and discussions regarding charging decisions are not something we can provide,” a spokesman said.

Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican candidate for governor, condemned the decision in a statement released this morning, saying it would open the floodgates to non-qualified voters. Handel also said the DOJ was a participant in the decision-making process that produced the program:

The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to deny preclearance of Georgia’s already implemented citizenship verification process shows a shocking disregard for the integrity of our elections.

With this decision, DOJ has now barred Georgia from continuing the citizenship verification program that DOJ lawyers helped to craft. DOJ’s decision also nullifies the orders of two federal courts directing Georgia to implement the procedure for the 2008 general election.

The decision comes seven months after Georgia requested an expedited review of the preclearance submission.

DOJ has thrown open the door for activist organizations such as ACORN to register non-citizens to vote in Georgia’s elections, and the state has no ability to verify an applicant’s citizenship status or whether the individual even exists…. Clearly, politics took priority over common sense and good public policy.

Pay attention to this. This is the first Obama administration judgment on an election law passed by a Republican-dominated General Assembly.

It could be an indication of how the Justice Department will react to S.B. 86, a measure signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue last month which would require every new voter to present proof of citizenship upon registration.

Nor are all Republicans united on this. Randy Evans, the Republican appointee to the State Elections Board, called the screening program a “terrible waste of taxpayer dollars and a slap in the face of Latino voters.”

“And yes, I know this is the requested approval from the DOJ from the case from last year — in advance of the new legislation that is the SoS codification of the compromise ruling. But from the DOJ perspective, they are one and the same,” he wrote in one of two e-mails this afternoon.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering arguments on the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval of all changes to election law in Georgia and several other states with a history of discrimination.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican from Sharpsburg who has been critical of Georgia’s continued inclusion in the mandates of the Voting Rights Act, added the following this afternoon:

“Justice’s ruling in this case is so transparently political that I’d hate to be the person at the department who had to put the right spin on this junk.

This goes to the heart of what I’ve been trying to say about the problem with ‘preclearance’: It creates a self-justifying cycle.

Georgia works with the federal government on a plan, we submit the plan to those exact same people, and they then ‘discover’ some violation of civil rights and use that as evidence that Georgia still requires federal oversight. It’s infuriating.

Jon Greenbaum is legal director for Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of several groups that opposed the screening:

“We are pleased that the Department of Justice correctly found that Secretary Handel’s verification procedures are inaccurate and discriminatory. Preventing these procedures from going into effect will prevent Secretary Handel from keeping many thousands of eligible Georgia voters off the rolls,” he said.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

260 comments Add your comment

Lucas

June 1st, 2009
9:49 am

The screening doesn’t work, anyway. It’s a hassle, and a waste of time at best. Much worse, at worst.

The Amazing GodHatesTrash

June 1st, 2009
10:10 am

The Georgia GOP. Some of the worst politicians that money can buy.

ByteMe

June 1st, 2009
10:10 am

Karen Handel thinks seceding is a good option. She’s turned herself from a bland and trustworthy technocrat into a Republican. Send the pander-bear back home.

SpaceyG

June 1st, 2009
10:11 am

Like a dog with a bone she is on this matter, eh? Imagine if Handel expended all that giant mass of “there MAY be some bad voters lurking out there” energy on stuff like actually helping Georgians?

John R

June 1st, 2009
10:19 am

Duh… is this the same justice department that sees no need to prevent uniformed black panthers from intimidating voters at a polling place??

Charlie

June 1st, 2009
10:22 am

The DOJ has rocketed Karen Handel straight into the governorship with this stunt.

Normal

June 1st, 2009
10:22 am

SpaceyG, I like your thinking, but she will never to the correct
thing, only the “Right” thing.
————-
John R, I hadn’t hear of this, where did it happen?

The Snark

June 1st, 2009
10:29 am

So, Karen … where exactly is this horde hiding? You know, the people ineligible to vote who are waiting for the secret signal to rush out and stand in line two hours to cast a ballot?

mrs.w

June 1st, 2009
10:30 am

what uniformed black panthers and where?

Redneck

June 1st, 2009
10:31 am

Normal, it happened in Philadelphia, Pa.. You can get the full details if you do a google search.

I don’t care whether there is actual voter fraud proved or not still think that a person should have to provide picture ID before voting. I have to provide one before I am allowed to get on board a airplane!

gatorman770

June 1st, 2009
10:32 am

Obamas DOJ will find no problems with ACORNs widespread voter fraud either. If this continues this administration will soon be known as the most corrupt in the history of the US.

Turd Furgeson

June 1st, 2009
10:33 am

The Obama Admin, DOJ and Acorn all in cahoots together. If these Dems continue having their way the Chinese will be casting votes in the next election…even ole dead Mao Tse Tung may have a voice.

Sniff…I also smell that piece of trash USELESS LOWERY in this mish mash.

Mike

June 1st, 2009
10:35 am

The South has a long history of trying to keep people from the polls; nothing new. Scared illegal immigrants don’t show up at the polls; it’s only LEGAL minorities bad Republicans (a.k.a. not my kind of REAL Republicans) want to keep form voting. Democracy is good for them as long as they get their way. If you did not vote for Obama, shut up for the next 8 years. We had to do so under the Bush Regime. It’s called the power pendulum.

jim feely

June 1st, 2009
10:35 am

just the beginning of things tocome from the black AG who himself is tainted. Who can prosecute the U.S. Att General, since this corrupt and prejudiced moron willeventually be under investigation. his bias evolves from he and Clinton’s tainted pardons.
has anyone run acredit checkon this slug?

SteveO

June 1st, 2009
10:36 am

Dear Karen,

The DOJ is not disagreeing with the idea of voter screening, just with your shoddy implementation. You should be taking this situation to re-examine the workings of your system. However, since this is Georgia, you can always blame the Feds for your own shoddy work. Congratulations! I expect you’ll easily win the rube vote in the next gubernatorial election.

Ron

June 1st, 2009
10:37 am

Does the DOJ’s letter trump actual court rulings?

And the ones that have not heard of the Black Panthers being at the polling place QUIT WATCHING THE LIBERAL MEDIA AND LEARN SOMETHING FOR YOURSELVES.

Howard

June 1st, 2009
10:38 am

Soon be known as the most corrupt in history?? they already are…this man is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It took Carter 4 years to ruin things…Obama will do it in 6 months. How’s hope and change working for all the suckers who voted for this inexperienced, overmatched, far left idealogue??? He’s like a turtle on a fence post…that turtle had no business being there, he didn’t get there on his own…and once up on the post, that turtle didn’t know what the hell to do!!! And evidently some clueless moron put him there!!!

Robert H. Tweedell

June 1st, 2009
10:39 am

Whatever happened to States Rights. I guess the Communist Party, Democrats, can’t deal with reality.

Turd Furgeson

June 1st, 2009
10:41 am

Where were you folks on election day. The news broadcasts were showing these Black Pansies at the actual polling place…one with baseball bat in hand.

Turd Ferguson

June 1st, 2009
10:41 am

Why would the Supreme Court have a problem with requireing everyone to prove they are a citizen in order to vote? Is that really a big deal? What’s even better, let’s make everyone pass a citizenship test before they vote…EVERYONE!

lovelyliz

June 1st, 2009
10:42 am

And some folks wonder why Section 5 is needed?!?!?!?!

Lay-Z

June 1st, 2009
10:43 am

Enter your comments here

Lay-Z

June 1st, 2009
10:45 am

Dis rekwirmints for votin id is a skam. Weeezy know bettah an weez b muvin up to da witehowse.

Crazee cool bloods…YO HOME BOYS!!

Ron

June 1st, 2009
10:45 am

AMEN Turd Ferguson. If there is no fraud going on then prove your citizenship. Oh wait, why should the voters prove their citizenship when the one’s being elected feel no need to do so.

Outhouse

June 1st, 2009
10:46 am

And refresh my memory…didn’t Obama and Holder just drop the charges against the Black Panther Jack boots who were charged in Philadelphia with intimidating voters while standing in the doors of the polls, oh yeah they were also carrying billy clubs. I guess that alright…

States Rights

June 1st, 2009
10:46 am

I am retiring in another 5 months and I already have my land bought in Ireland….this country will NOT survive 4 years of this administration. If you are not apalled at what has been going on you have not been paying attention.

Tman

June 1st, 2009
10:47 am

Verification is needed but did you folks miss the part when it said that minorities are more likley to be flagged. Something is wrong in the system when we are still practicing this kind of stuff. How can you support something that labels individuals by color. The Old South never dies. No wonder the FEDS have to keep their nose in our business. We can’t find a way to do the right thing.

Lay-Z

June 1st, 2009
10:48 am

Jodie Foster b my new home girl…YO boyz come git sum ya rump rangers.

Just Nasty & Mean

June 1st, 2009
10:48 am

The problem here is the DOJ is doing Obama’s bidding, creating new and illegal ways for his cohorts from ACORN to register every illegal alien they can find to vote for him and his minions.

Along with strengthening the unions, dumbing down the electorate (see his Wash. DC decision), funding the mind-numbed robots from ACORN with Billions of our tax dollars—this decision is just another cog in the machine to Marxism.

All you blank-headed meatheads that voted for Obama—YOUR VOTE JUST GOT DILUTED by ineligible, illegal and unqualified voters..

Congratulations!

Normal

June 1st, 2009
10:49 am

Red Neck,
Thanks for the information, I’ll look it up and I agree that a picture
ID be required. It only makes sense to me.

Turd Furgeson

June 1st, 2009
10:50 am

I guess then the minorties need to get on board with the programs then. I think it might be very interesting to investigate WHY MINORITIES are being flagged more so than “they are being flagged.”

Lets find the answer there then make corrections.

Ron

June 1st, 2009
10:51 am

I only have one thing to say RUN ROY RUN, Mr. Barnes please enter the Governor’s race.

Soon to be Dr.

June 1st, 2009
10:52 am

Secretary of State with a High school degree Handle.

I am sure if you could have handled some college courses you would have the talent to implemented this program fairly.

No one wants illegals voting and we do not want your Jim Crow Tactics either Handle.

It is amazing that these Obama-right-wings do not understand that Obama is in the Executive branch of government and has nothing to do with this….

next thing Obama is responsible for global warming….. ohh I forgot right wing does not believe in global warming. (like we never had an ice age!!)

Jack booted thug

June 1st, 2009
10:53 am

All of ya KMA. We gun be nex times at duh vote boofs wif stix an dey gone be votin likes we b sayin. Git in line foe an ass-woopin.

Harvey

June 1st, 2009
10:53 am

It time someone let the racism Republicans know that they can’t go back to Lester Maddox days. Just think if Karen is elected governor of Georgia, it will be Lester Maddox all over again she thinks, the south will not ride again in the same manor it did in it’s so call glory days. Next she will be saying “This is what god’s want. Georgian it’s time we started to talk back the state from the racism republicans.

Bill Turner

June 1st, 2009
10:53 am

O(ne)
B(ig)
A(wful)
M(istake)
A(merica)

James

June 1st, 2009
10:54 am

Yeah…you like the system just fine until old Karen decides that your last name sounds like it could belong to an illegal alien and runs your driver’s license through the system, punching in wrong numbers along the way, keeping you from voting.

Karen Handel’s shoddy workmanship will clearly carry over to the Governor’s mansion if we elect her…so let’s not elect her please!

Turd Furgeson

June 1st, 2009
10:56 am

Ms Handel would make a fine Govenor. I think I might vote for her just out of plain spite for the Dems. Much like the Dems did for that lying SOS Obama.

AH

June 1st, 2009
10:57 am

So if you don’t like the law and someone arbitrarily changes it that’s ok with you? Personally I like it when you have to go through proper channels to change/correct laws it gives me a sense that we are actually following some sort of civilized law not just mob rule.

jabster

June 1st, 2009
10:59 am

This is about stupid. All this verification scheme does is match voter rolls with driver’s license databases and social security databases, and flag a voter to provide more information if there’s not a match. Where is the discrimination?

Incidentally, this driver’s license and SSN database verification process is a FEDERAL requirement under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). So, now we have the DOJ saying that Georgia’s compliance under HAVA (i.e., compliance with Federal law) is discriminatory.

If anything, this is a textbook example of why Section 5 is obsolete and needs to go.

And Mike, I’m only going to get louder under PBO.

FC Crusher

June 1st, 2009
11:01 am

All of this hand wringing over voter fraud and illegals voting mystifies me. Can anyone show any proof that such things are happening in this state or is this another example of the racism that seems to be so endemic to the GOP that they are unable to see the perception of their actions.

Koz

June 1st, 2009
11:02 am

I hated Obama before it was cool

Stu Bioge

June 1st, 2009
11:02 am

Why can’t we just trust that people will be who they say that they are and only vote once. Why not just put voting kiosks in the mall, then we could vote whenever we needed to without anyone bothering to check our ID. That old system, which allowed a utility bill to substitute for ID, was way too restrictive. I mean, really, I should be free from that type of governmental harassment!

jabster

June 1st, 2009
11:03 am

Harvey: Before you drag Lester Maddox through the mud, keep in mind that he integrated the State Patrol and forbade them from using the N-word, and hired more blacks to state government than all his predecessors combined, among many other things.

bones thugs & harmony

June 1st, 2009
11:05 am

Awl u mutha’s best step in line wif DOJ cuz dey be right-on, homie my man say ouch win dey b cuttin off his wahta but it dun mattah cuz duh votin boof b da =lizer like drinkin dat fine wine bull of duh woods.

So y’all sho up on votin day and I crack uh empty bottle ova ya heads din sinz yahome to paw paw cryin like a little girlsz and punksboys.

Ben dovah an show me some reaspeks.

FC Crusher

June 1st, 2009
11:05 am

Oh, and not anecdotes like “I was at the poles and saw a whole bunch of Mexicans and blacks voting and I didn’t like it!” I’d like some verified proof that such things have happened IN THIS STATE.

clyde

June 1st, 2009
11:05 am

Karen Handel wasn’t on the up and up? That’s not news.She did what she was paid to do.

Bob

June 1st, 2009
11:06 am

I had no problems voting last election. Why is everyone saying it’s a hassle? If someone’s ID numbers don’t match shouldn’t that be a red flag? I don’t see why people are against voter identification. I don’t want my vote to compete with fake voters.

EW

June 1st, 2009
11:07 am

Somebodies got to say it…

How is it wrong that more minorities are going to be flagged when the majority of those that have committed voter fraud are minorities or pose as minorities? Racism is wrong but damn, that’s not racism that’s just common freakin sense.

Tom

June 1st, 2009
11:07 am

I think there are better ways to screen during elections. The south has a history around the world for not getting it right.Where were you black Panther haters when the KKK was throwing rocks at Hosea Williams in Forsyth County?