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October 16, 2018

ATLANTA -- On behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, the ACLU of Georgia has filed a lawsuit demanding that the Secretary of State and all county registrars provide due process for Georgia voters whose absentee ballots or applications due to an alleged mismatch of signatures. 

Georgia law forces hard working local elections officials to act as handwriting experts without any training. As a result, the constitutional right to vote is at the mercy of subjective handwriting determinations by lay persons without appropriate expertise.    

If these hardworking lay persons reject the absentee ballot or application on this basis, Georgia law fails to provide any due process voters to contest the determination that strips them of their vote. 

As the lawsuit explains, “[a] person’s signature … may vary for a variety of reasons, both intentional and unintentional. Unintentional factors include age, physical and mental condition, disability, medication, stress, accidents, and inherent differences in a person’s neuromuscular coordination and stance. Variants are more prevalent in people who are elderly, disabled, or who speak English as a second language.”

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order requiring election officials to provide due process to Georgians who vote by absentee. Specifically, the lawsuit asks the court to require elections officials to provide absentee voters the opportunity to confirm their identity or otherwise resolve the alleged discrepancy. 

“Georgia’s signature matching law is a literacy test reminiscent of Jim Crow,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “If government officials are going to take away someone’s constitutional right to vote, then they must provide voters with ample time to contest the decision and have their ballot counted.”