In 2002, the United States' Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. The act was aimed at upgrading the technology and administrative procedures that govern our voting process. In the wake of this act though, the state of Georgia imposed new requirements to register to vote. One of these requirements, a full social security number, was struck down in Schwier v. Cox (N.D. Ga., June 27, 2006). Following that ruling, Georgia modified its verification system to only ask for the last four digits of a social security number. This change was not satisfactory to the Department of Justice though, as a civil rights coalition not including the ACLU of Georgia successfully showed that the new verification process would result in a flagging pattern that would disproportionately target minorities. This pattern violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Following this determination, the State of Georgia filed a complaint against the Department of Justice alleging that not only was its verification system not discriminatory, but that the Department of Justice did not have the right to impose the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 upon it. This lawsuit was filed on June 22nd, 2010 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. On July 7th, 2010, the ACLU of Georgia, the ACLU, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights intervened in the case.

STATUS

We, along with our coalition partners, defended the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On August 18th, 2010, the state of Georgia and the Department of Justice agreed to a revised verification process that better achieved the goals of the Help America Vote Act without unduly burdening minorities. The lawsuit between the two parties was jointly dismissed on November 2nd, 2010.

Press release regarding ACLU of Georgia intervention in lawsuit

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