Contact: Matt Carrothers
Director of Media Relations
U.S. District Court Directs State to Continue Voter Registration Verification Process and Challenge Ballot Procedures
Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel today welcomed a U.S. District Court decision that allows the state to continue to verify the eligibility of new voter registration applicants, pending preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice. The decision affirms guidance provided by the Secretary of State’s office to county elections officials several weeks ago, which detailed the verification process, the obligation of county elections offices to contact potentially ineligible applicants, and the casting of a ‘challenged ballot’ by those applicants whose eligibility remained in question.
The three-judge District Court panel ruled that voters who are identified in the statewide voter registration database as potentially ineligible to cast a ballot will be allowed to cast a “challenged” ballot, as currently provided and required by Georgia law. Potentially ineligible voters will also be provided the opportunity to provide information confirming their eligibility to register and vote.
“I’m grateful for the District Court panel’s decision which reinforces the state’s voter registration verification procedures. It is clear the Court believes that the state has the responsibility to verify the eligibility of new voter registration applicants and has ultimately allowed the process to continue,” Handel said. “The verification process is an important tool to ensure the integrity of our elections. It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs filed suit to halt this federally required process, which could have caused uncertainty among Georgia’s voters and elections officials and questions about the legitimacy of the elections. The ruling is a total rejection of the plaintiff’s proposed remedy, which would have stopped the verification process and required that all potentially ineligible voters cast a regular ballot in this year’s elections.”
The Court’s order states that the voter registration verification process “preserves the integrity of the voting process by ascertaining the eligibility of the challenged voter to cast a vote, thereby preventing the dilution of the votes of eligible voters.”
The District Court ruling also instructs the Secretary of State to issue additional guidance to county elections officials explaining the verification and challenge ballot processes. Secretary Handel’s office will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice throughout the General Election period and the preclearance process.