For the second time, the U.S. Justice Department has rejected Georgia’s system of identifying voters who might not be U.S. citizens.
In a letter to Attorney General Thurbert Baker in May, the Justice Department said the state’s voter verification program is frequently inaccurate and has a “discriminatory effect” on minority voters.
“[A second] review indicates that the state has not provided any additional information or arguments related to the original voter registration verification program to which an objection was interposed, to support its request that the objection to the original program should be withdrawn,” writes Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
But here’s the real news: Last year, the Legislature passed – and the governor signed – S.B. 86, which requires new Georgia voters to provide proof of citizenship at the time of registration.
In the above letter, the Justice Department reminds Secretary of State Brian Kemp that the legislation needs to be cleared, and it has an effective date of Jan. 1, 2010.
Kemp spokesman Matt Carrothers said the law has not been enforced, since – under the rules of the Voting Rights Act – it can’t go into effect without Justice Department approval.
Or a federal court fight.
Carrothers said the secretary of state was waiting for the Justice Department decision on voter verification. With that decision in, Kemp has decided to take the voter verification issue to court.
“The state of Georgia will no longer watch the Obama Justice Department play politics with our election processes and protections,” Kemp said in a press release issued this afternoon.
But Kemp has also decided not to bother asking for Justice Department approval of S.B. 86. From the press release:
“Given the DOJ’s actions with respect to Georgia’s implementation of the voter verification process, Secretary Kemp will ask Attorney General Thurbert Baker to bring a similar declaratory judgment action for preclearance of Senate Bill 86, signed into law in May 2009.
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