ATLANTA – The Federal District Court set a hearing date for April 24, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. concerning the Motion for Preliminary Injunction that the ACLU of Georgia requested in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of requiring voters to buy postage stamps when submitting mail-in absentee ballots and mailing in absentee ballot applications.
The federal court directed the secretary of state and co-defendants to file a response and motion no later than Friday, April 17, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. The court stated:
“If Defendants intend to argue that prepaid postage will impose a burden, they need to be prepared to quantify the burden with as much precision as possible given the expedited briefing schedule.”
The legal claim is straightforward. The U.S. Constitution bans poll taxes. Postage costs money. Georgia’s election officials require voters to pay postage when submitting mail-in absentee ballots. This is a poll tax and, therefore, unconstitutional.
“No one should have to choose between protecting their health and their right to vote. Voting by mail will be the safest option for many voters. In failing to provide prepaid postage for absentee ballots, Georgia is creating an unconstitutional obstacle to voting. We won't allow for a modern-day poll tax,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
“Because of the pandemic, the number of voters who mail in ballots will skyrocket. It is all the more imperative that unconstitutional barriers like this poll tax be removed immediately,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.
The ACLU of Georgia seeks a preliminary injunction to require election officials to provide prepaid returnable envelopes for absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications. Under binding legal precedent, a poll tax remains illegal regardless of whether “free” alternatives exist, such as voting in-person. During this highly contagious pandemic, expecting Georgians to place themselves and vulnerable loved ones in danger is unconscionable.
Black Voters Matter v. Raffensperger was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.