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February 20, 2018

Current voter registration forms erect unlawful barriers to Georgia voters 

ATLANTA - The ACLU of Georgia warned Secretary of State that "there is an egregious error on the Georgia voter registration form provided by [this] office, an error that illegally misrepresents state and federal law and erects unlawful barriers to voter registration."
The current Georgia voter registration form on the Secretary of State's website contains the following instructions:
REQUIREMENT: If you are submitting this form by mail and you are registering for the first time in Georgia, enclose a copy of one of the following with your application: A copy of a current and valid photo ID, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address. 

This is followed by further instructions that state, "Place copy of ID in pocket" and "Trim copy of ID to size."

While state and federal laws explicitly provide that first-time mail registrants may provide a copy of proof of name and address with their voter registration form, neither law requires voters to provide documentary proof of name and residence until the time that they actually vote for the first time in Georgia.
Additionally, when eligible voters provide a Georgia driver's license or ID number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number at the time they register to vote, neither state nor federal law requires Georgia voters to submit documentary proof of name and address at all if state databases verify their residence.  
"These requirements are blatantly wrong, violate both state and federal law, and prevent eligible U.S. citizens living in Georgia from registering to exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote," stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director for the ACLU of Georgia. "The smooth functioning of our democracy requires that elections officials follow the law."
"This is important because groups like the League of Women Voters that register a lot of voters can't do their job if the form contains misleading information telling voters to include a copy of their proof of residence with the application," Young stated. "No one is walking around carrying a copy machine under their arms."
With the next election right around the corner and the 30-day voter registration deadline  fast approaching, the ACLU of Georgia asked the Secretary of State to inform them within five business days whether he intended to bring the state's voter registration forms into compliance with state and federal law. At that point, the ACLU of Georgia will assess its legal options.