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October 24, 2018

ATLANTA —Today, a federal district court granted the ACLU of Georgia’s motion for a temporary restraining order that prohibits elections officials from rejecting absentee ballot applications and ballots due to an alleged signature mismatch without providing the voter with an opportunity to explain the alleged mismatch in enough time for the ballot to count in this election.

“We are pleased that the court has enforced the due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Today’s ruling is a victory for democracy and for every absentee voter in the state of Georgia.”

The court proposed the following order. That proposed order requires the following.

  1. All absentee ballots that would have otherwise been rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch be considered a provisional ballot that will be counted after the election if the voter confirms their identity.
  2. All absentee ballot applications that would otherwise would have been rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch shall also result in the issuance of a provisional ballot that will be counted subject to the above procedures.
  3. This order applies to all absentee ballot applications and ballots that have been submitted and will be submitted in this election. It will not apply to voters who have already cast an in-person vote.

As the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta explained, “[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 older, disabled, or who speak English as a second language.”

“The right to vote is both sacred and fundamental. We thank the Court for their diligence in reviewing our request and for issuing the temporary restraining order to ensure that every vote counts,” said Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project.

“When we have laws that infringe on the right to vote absentee, it is the most vulnerable members of our communities who suffer the most. It’s the elderly, the disabled—for whom physically getting to the polls is a real challenge. It’s the immigrant who is limited English proficient who may be too intimidated to vote in person,” stated Phi Nguyễn, Litigation Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.

“It’s those who don’t own a car or who don't otherwise have reliable transportation. We are very pleased that the court has granted our request for injunctive relief that will help protect our community members from disenfranchisement. And we will continue to do everything in our power to make ensure our communities are not silenced," Nguyễn continued.