Justice Dept. overturns Georgia's Voter Verification program - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Justice Dept. overturns Georgia's Voter Verification program

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Nearly seven months after the historic 2008 elections, Georgia will have to change their voting laws yet again, after the U.S. Justice Department denied pre clearance to their voter verification process.

Voters will still have to bring an I. D. to vote, but now, poll workers will not have to check to see if someone is a bona fide U.S. Citizen.

[CG :2 LINE CG\Josh McKoon\Muscogee County Republicans]

"The only reason to get rid of citizenship verification is to make it easier to commit voter fraud. Obviously the Justice Department ignored the fact that in 2008 we had highest turnout of voters in Georgia history, with this process in place, and there were no complaints or problems," said Josh McKoon of the Muscogee County Republican Party.

According to the Muscogee County Elections Office, most people who were singled out through the verification process turned out to be U.S. citizens who were recently naturalized--they just did not file the appropriate paperwork with the state.

It proves the point of local democrats who support the Justice Department's move.

"It disproportionately targeted the poor, minorities and Latinos, exactly the voters the republicans were counting on to vote for democrats," said John Van Doorn of the Muscogee County Democrats.

Republicans, though, point to provisional ballots as a fail safe measure, to make sure every vote counts, but that no one takes advantage of the process.

"If you show up and you don't have a photo I. D. or you get flagged during citizenship verification, you are still by law allowed to case a provisional ballot," said McKoon.

Democrats, though, say it still keeps people from coming to the polls in the first place.

"It suppresses voter turnout from the get-go. If they are determined souls, and they know to ask for a provisional ballot, they may be counted, but it's still two hurdles," said Van Doorn.

Secretary of State Karen Handel is considering legal action, saying that it is a sad day for the rights of Georgians and the integrity of elections.

This could be the subject of many court battles to come.

Again, you still have to bring an I. D. with you when you vote, regardless of this decision.

 

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