Georgia settles lawsuit over voter registration for the poor

The state of Georgia has settled a major lawsuit over its failure to offer poor people who sign up for public assistance a chance to register to vote.

From the press release just issued by the plaintiffs:

A coalition of national voting rights groups have secured a landmark settlement with the State of Georgia to ensure that voter registration is offered to all public assistance applicants. The state has settled a lawsuit, brought by the coalition on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, alleging widespread violations of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

Georgia’s Secretary of State and its Department of Human Services (DHS) have agreed to comply with Section 7 of the NVRA, which requires that public assistance agency clients be provided with the opportunity to register to vote every time they apply for or renew benefits, or when they submit a change of address. This includes instances where clients interact with the agency both in person and by remote means (by telephone, internet or mail, for example). The lawsuit alleged that Georgia had been largely ignoring this mandate for many years.

“This settlement is a major step in modernizing our registration system for public assistance applicants, who increasingly interact with agencies through internet-based and telephone transactions,” says Neil Steiner, a partner with the law firm of Dechert LLP. “Voting is a fundamental right in the United States and we are pleased to assist in ensuring that it is available to all those who are eligible.”

A few numbers:

….[T]here has been a dramatic decline in the number of persons registering to vote at Georgia public assistance offices since the NVRA first took effect in the mid-1990s. During the 1995-1996 reporting period, DHS received over 100,000 registration applications, but in 2010 the number of registrations had dropped to a mere 4,430. By comparison, in 2009, Georgia, on average, received nearly 70,000 applications each month for just one of the public assistance programs (Food Stamps) covered by the NVRA’s voter registration requirements.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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113 comments Add your comment

Debbie Dooley

April 19th, 2012
10:26 am

Gee – I wonder if the Sec of State’s office will put out an announcement on this? – NOT – they are off somewhere sulking about letting poor people vote for Democrats……

Ashley Dawson

April 19th, 2012
10:39 am

When I was a senior in highschool, officials came to our school to register those who 171/2 or 18 for the upcoming election in 1976. Since every senior had to take American History/Government they had plenty of new voters on the roll. We should be encouraging all Americans to vote whether they be rich or poor 18 or 118. With all the schools in the state of Georgia and all the public assistance agency ,I can’t believe this hasn’t already been implemented.

Independent voter

April 19th, 2012
10:45 am

The republicans must be stop they are trying to take voter rights from african american.
I hope to see more law suit against GA especially with the drug test for foodstamps clients.
This is a wake up call vote these republicans out of the office.

[...] Public assistance in numbers: ….[T]here has been a dramatic decline in the number of persons registering to vote at Georgia public assistance offices since the NVRA first took effect in the mid-1990s. During the 1995-1996 reporting period, DHS received over 100,000 registration applications, but in 2010 the number of registrations had dropped to a mere 4,430. By comparison, in 2009, Georgia, on average, received nearly 70,000 applications each month for just one of the public assistance programs (Food Stamps) covered by the NVRA’s voter registration requirements. Source [...]

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
11:21 am

Garbage. Independent you are a joke!

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/local_news/Woman-Booted-From-Cumming-City-Council-Meeting-For-Camera-20120418-pm-pk

April 19th, 2012
11:24 am

Camera Gets Woman Booted From Cumming City Council Meeting

td

April 19th, 2012
11:25 am

Where is the states side of the story?

Since I know some DFCS staff and have been hearing about this issue for more then a year then let me provide a little more information.

DFCS had a policy to offer all new applicants voter registration when they came into apply for benefits to comply with the law. (same policy that Child support and Drivers services have).

This group came in and said that this was not enough and that DFCS had to offer voter registration every time they talked to any citizen. This group said that it did not matter if the agency had offered them when they applied for benefits the agency was out of compliance if they did not offer to register them when a client called into a office to report a change of address or found a job or came in every 6 months for a review of their case.

This group is forcing a state agency to use taxpayer money and become a voter registration center for potential democratic voters. I think the state should have stood up to them and said no because they were in compliance with motor voter but for some reason they gave in and now a state agency is turning into a voter registration agency.

Where is the research and story on who is funding this group? Where is the story on how many more states this group is doing the same things in?

We will not see it and I think we all know why.

Look before I leap...

April 19th, 2012
11:25 am

As long as proof of citizenship is required to apply for benefits as well as voter registration, I have no problem with offering the option to register to vote when requesting state assistance.

Tom

April 19th, 2012
11:26 am

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
11:42 am

Quite today.

Bill from Atlanta

April 19th, 2012
11:45 am

People on public assistance should lose their privelage to vote. You liberal activists know that the bigger voting block you create to support government freebie programs; the closer you can get to your socialist/welfare state/ totalitarian government. Many of you are philosophically dishonest and will not admit this. Instead, you use your old tired defense by spouting “Jim Crow” or “Poll Tax” so you can deflect the facts and make it a racial issue. Socialism/Totalitarianism is the worse form of racism. The intelligent amongst the citizenry know that allowing welfare recipients to vote simply encourages bigger welfare programs and the political demagogues who will make the promises. If you liberals want to help the poor, encourage voluntary charity and work to get them off the programs and be productive. Then let them vote.

H Pitler

April 19th, 2012
11:46 am

How about automatic voter registration for people who pay their TAXES. Check a box on your tax return and you are registered.
Let’s hope the welfare recipients calling to change their address are DELETED from the voter lists at their old address. This is a problem in general. Move and your address is still on the list for your former home.

Mark M.

April 19th, 2012
11:46 am

“The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”

And, who do you suppose could have said this”
“I will not allow the 43% of Americans who pay zero taxes to bear the full burden of the fat-cat 53% who are not paying their fair share!”

Ned

April 19th, 2012
11:46 am

UGA,

Spell check is your friend. Use it!

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
11:49 am

QUIET….Sorry typed too fast.

Frontman

April 19th, 2012
11:50 am

A few questions about this:
Is it possible that most of the people applying for or renewing benefits are already registered to vote?
Is it possible that a much smaller percentage of those applying for or renewing benefits are registering?

It seems to me, though, that voter registration would be better served by providing an opportunity on the national or state level when you file your income tax return.
The real topic looming here is that of universal suffrage. Very few people want an elitist system in which only the select few get to vote, but universal suffrage has a large number of problems, one of the biggest of which is that those who are being supported by the government will vote for those who offer still more support from the government.
My fear here would be that in trying to get the poor to vote, you neglect the other classes who bear the consequences financially of elections, and that the poor get a disproportionate voice in deciding elections. That would be far more disastrous than taking some action like disallowing those on public assistance from voting.

Weetamoe

April 19th, 2012
11:51 am

How many ways are they cooking the dogs to be served on the Warren Buffet table? Hank Johnson and friends want to know.

jconservative

April 19th, 2012
11:54 am

“I think the state should have stood up to them and said no because they were in compliance with motor voter but for some reason they gave in…”

Usually when someone “gives in” it is because their attorneys tell them they have no case. So to avoid a judgment they make an out of court deal.

The Captain

April 19th, 2012
11:56 am

Any adult who has a functioning mental capacity should be aware of his/her right to vote, and should be capable of availing themselves of the information and locations of extant facilities to register for that purpose. I am tired of additional tax money being spent to have to bend over backwards to make it more convenient for people too lazy to care. These people can and should register to vote if they choose, at the facilities already in place for that purpose. They will make double sure they can get to the welfare office to get their handouts, they can certainly arrange transportation to the Voter Registration office. I also reject that these people are simply “too poor” to have basic state-issued photo identification. In my 46 years, I have yet to meet a single person who, in the course of their current adult life, did not need a government-issued photo identification for ANY other purpose. Those currently without one can present themselves with their documentation and have one processed within a few minutes for just $20. This amount is not onerous or burdensome to anyone except for some of the homeless. Many of those I have seen complaining about the cost or availability seem to have plenty of money for expensive cell phones, hair and nail appointments, high-end cars and accessories thereon, expensive clothing and jewelry, and lots of funds to eat out multiple times a week.

TiredOfIt

April 19th, 2012
12:00 pm

Paul Weyrich, “father” of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority and various other groups tells his flock that he doesn’t want people to vote.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GBAsFwPglw

Paul Weyrich Discusses Why Republicans Should Suppress Voter Turnout 1980’s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR4wxlCGIu0

Auntie Christ

April 19th, 2012
12:03 pm

Once again td has formulated his comments before reading the post or understanding what he is waxing so eloquently on. He states “This group is forcing a state agency to use taxpayer money and become a voter registration center for potential democratic voters” “This group” as you call it is the NVRA, The NVRA requires the state agency to offer voter registration assistance, not some ‘group.’ The plaintiffs sued to make the state of GA comply with the law. The fact that some republican operative felt that mentioning voter registration in the initial contact was adequate, is of little consequence. The law was not being adhered to, thus the suit.

td then asks the probing question, (implying there must be dark cabals at work here): Where is the research and story on who is funding this group? Again, what “group” are you referring to? Do you mean who brought the lawsuit? It clearly states that the NAACP and the Coalition for the People’s Agenda brought the suit. Do you need instruction on how to use google to get the facts on ‘the research and story on who is funding this group?’

And finally, again in ominous tones of conspiracy, he states “We will not see it and I think we all know why.” Right, because Vladimir Putin and the 78-81 members of congress who are card carrying communists will make sure we never know the real story.

And td wrote all of it with a straight face. Amazin’!

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:03 pm

What’s the Citizen’s side of the story? I’m tired of tax payer money being having to be used to defend in law suits from wack job Republicans. In fact, I’m tired of the time I have to spend to keep their hateful agenda at bay.

Thus we should charge Republicans an extra 5% tax because of their crazy ideas that impede civilization.

td

April 19th, 2012
12:06 pm

jconservative

April 19th, 2012
11:54 am

“I think the state should have stood up to them and said no because they were in compliance with motor voter but for some reason they gave in…”

Usually when someone “gives in” it is because their attorneys tell them they have no case. So to avoid a judgment they make an out of court deal.

That is not true because most of the time people look at the cost/benefit analysis first to see if the cost is worth the fight. I think the state said the cost (to the taxpayer) is not worth it.

Marlboro Man

April 19th, 2012
12:08 pm

If gov’t requires an ID, they should provide an ID.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:10 pm

Marlboro, that is fine, if you want your taxes to increase. Fine by me.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:11 pm

@UGA 666 – Increase taxes on all Republicans, Libertarians and Southerners by 25%.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:13 pm

Aaron Burr….and Dems. Fine with it.

Auntie Christ

April 19th, 2012
12:15 pm

The right wing posters here seem to think the poor will sway the elections in their favor. Yeah right, donald trump, koch brothers, and wall street bankers just won’t have any influence over our elections in the future. Republican politicians will be trampling each other in their efforts to cater to the poors, since they know that the poors will be running things from now on. LOL

td

April 19th, 2012
12:17 pm

Auntie Christ

April 19th, 2012
12:03 pm

Can you show me in the law or in a Federal procedure where it requires a state agency to ask a person to register to vote at every contact?

No you can not so it is up to the interpretation of the state. These groups are doing nothing more then turning the state into a democratic voter registration team, since ACORN was taken out for the corruption and most states have made third party registration groups accountable for their actions. This is nothing more then pure politics from the left and Obama to get re elected at the expense of the taxpayers of Georgia and many other states.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:18 pm

@UGA 666 – You’re fine with me and Dems increasing taxes on you by 25%? Awesome. We do that for 50 years and it should just about pay for the damage done by the Reagan revolution.

gm

April 19th, 2012
12:18 pm

Bill from Atlanta

Hey right wing nut there are many type of people on assistant, how about the person that got layed off after 20 years on a job, or single moms who had to take pay cuts, should they not be able to vote?

I will say this over and over, the far right are a disgrace to every American rep of the past, what a bunch of selfish uninformed, fox news brain dead idiots.

Wreck

April 19th, 2012
12:23 pm

What a crock. I actually had to take the initiative to register to vote. It’s GREAT to know that those who receive public assistance should not be forced to take any initiative of their own.

I have no problem with states doing this – but acting like it’s a grave injustice when poor people aren’t SPOONFED their responsibilities as citizens sorta kinda maybe sends the wrong message. I wouldn’t mind so much if these people then had to take the initiative to actually vote on election day, but whoops, here comes the Democrats rolling buses into these neighborhoods with free goodies, all aboard!

gm

April 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

td

This is nothing more then pure politics from the left and Obama to get re elected at the expense of

We know Obama will not get elected in this state” you conservative are to c simplicity, you are the idiots that voted for Newt and Palin do any one outside the Georgia area really value your vote as a conservative?

Obama will win without Georgia, he proved it back in 08”’

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:25 pm

Aaron…Fine as long as it is a broad tax increase for all Americans and our government can control spending. Go ahead. Oh yeah blame Reagan but ignore Obama’s wreckless spending.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:26 pm

@Wreck – Its a matter of opinion. Conservatives see cash as speech.

Liberals see a need to limit money in campaigns so that not only the rich and corporations control the dialog.

Of course you think that the poor shouldn’t receive assistance in registering to vote. After all, a) The poor don’t support your ideas and b) Your mindless idiots already get their marching orders from Fox News.

If you get to have your mindless idiots, we get to have ours.

Otherwise, if it is QUALITY of voter you really care about, then we need to ensure an empathy and intelligence test for voting rights.

And liberals get to write it.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:27 pm

@UGA – LOL, criticizing Obama’s spending while defending Reagan shows exactly why Republicans need to be taxed separately at greater rates.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:29 pm

Aaron….Did I defend Reagan. However Reagan will go down as one of the best presidents in history. Will Obama? Also, is Reagan president now??

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:31 pm

@UGA 666 – Yes. You did. By implication in the post before that, and just now in your current post.

And I have no idea re: Obama. I do admit he’s one of the greatest presidents at pissing off people like you, which is a giant plus, but his cowardice against people like you greatly detracts from any potential greatness.

And I know history (which you love to talk about) is just last week for anything that you don’t want to consider, but yeah; deficits matter, and talking about Rep presidents vs Dem presidents matters when discussing spending.

gm

April 19th, 2012
12:37 pm

Does anyone ever notice Rep are always going back to Reagan, but skip over the 2 Bush who had a totally of 12 years destroying America:

Sean the scum idiot Hannity always talking about Reagan but never talk about daddy Bush and his son that destroyed our enconomy, wow”’

Look before I leap...

April 19th, 2012
12:37 pm

@UGA

“….is Reagan president now??”

Please remember that comment the next time someone on here uses Clinton’s failings as a deflection whenever the issue of the moral character of a current public official comes under question.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:38 pm

Aaron…”implication”?? See that is the problem with the Dems, you guys assume too much. It is great.

Obama’s “potential greatness” will never been seen because he is not great.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:38 pm

Aaron….As you know I lean Repub. but atleast I will give Clinton credit for getting things done and working with the right.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:39 pm

Look….read my last post.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
12:41 pm

@UGA 1999 – Which puts you light years ahead of many others. And at the least Obama is a great orator. Of course, the key with him is watching what he DOES, not what he says.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:44 pm

Aaron…agreed he is somewhat of a great speaker as long as his teleprompter is working. This is why I think he is going to have a hard time debating Romney.

He also tends to put his foot in his own mouth too often. With comments about non-governmental issues.

td

April 19th, 2012
12:50 pm

Obama is a good father and a nice guy that is in way over his head and has zero leadership ability. This country is in way to much trouble to and has way to many serious issues to have such a lightweight leading it. He must be removed from office.

ABR

April 19th, 2012
12:51 pm

One comment is that people should only be allowed to vote if they pay taxes! OK. How about not letting the Bank of America have a lobby group in DC since it/they haven’t paid 2009 and 2010 taxes. It is not knows if it paid any in 2011.

UGA 1999

April 19th, 2012
12:52 pm

ABR…”It is not knows if it paid any in 2011″?? Really??

How about all of the people that company employs? I guess that means nothing to you as well?

Simeon Namore

April 19th, 2012
1:02 pm

To BILL FROM ATLANTA: Stop breathing asap.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

April 19th, 2012
1:07 pm

@UGA 1999 – He’s a great speaker period, with or without the teleprompter, and Mitt Romney has no beliefs save that he is LDS and wants to be president. Obama will wipe the floor with Romney in the debates, but it doesn’t matter. Romney will have better hair or some other randomly stupid thing so the effect from the debates is likely to be null and void. The entire election seems to fall to 4% of the population that don’t know how to dress themselves.

@Totally Dumb – Nice Guys do indeed finish last.

@ABR – Love the idea. Not holding my breath on it happening.