ATLANTA – Last night, the governor signed into law HB 316 which contains several modest reforms brought about through ACLU of Georgia’s litigation and advocacy. Last fall, the ACLU of Georgia sued the state in federal court for rejecting absentee ballots because of perceived signature mismatches. The district court agreed with the ACLU and temporarily halted the practice.
“Our lawsuit shined a spotlight on this unconstitutional practice,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “The new law now permanently enshrines the court’s ruling, protecting the sacred, constitutional right to vote for all Georgians.”
The new law reflects three other reforms for which the ACLU of Georgia lobbied. First, early voting locations can now be housed in nongovernment buildings which can expand the number of eligible polling places for early voting.
Second, the state is prohibited from automatically removing from the voter rolls people who elections officials believe are serving sentences for a felony conviction, beliefs that are often based on inaccurate databases. Third, the law expanded from 10 to 60 days before an election the time during which a county is prohibited from closing polling places.
“While these improvements are modest, they are a step in the right direction,” stated Young.