Secretary of State Kemp Vows to Continue Fight to Protect Georgia’s Voter Registration Rolls
Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today that he will continue the fight to protect the State’s voter registration rolls, despite Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s latest refusal to intervene in the process to preclear two critical voter roll protection programs.
In February, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) again denied administrative preclearance of the State’s voter verification process, contending that a decision could not be made without additional information. However, all of the additional information sought by the DOJ had been provided previously, some of it on numerous occasions.
The State may seek preclearance of a change affecting voting by bringing a declaratory judgment action in federal court or, as an alternative, by submitting the change to the DOJ. Therefore, following the DOJ’s February denial of preclearance, Secretary Kemp asked Baker to seek federal court preclearance of both the voter verification process and Senate Bill 86 (SB 86), the State’s proof of citizenship requirement passed last year.
In April, Secretary Kemp requested that Governor Perdue call for Baker to appoint counsel to represent the State and immediately seek declaratory judgment in federal court. Governor Perdue sent this request to Baker on April 7.
Secretary Kemp stated, “Today, Georgia remains the only state in the country barred from complying with the federal Help America Vote Act’s voter verification process. I am disappointed that Attorney General Baker has again refused to represent Georgia voters in federal court, choosing instead to play politics with the integrity of our elections.
“The Attorney General’s statements to the press today and his refusal to represent the State are difficult to square with his previous acknowledgement that Georgia’s voter verification process is non-discriminatory.
“Fortunately, the State can proceed without Mr. Baker. We will work with Governor Perdue to pursue preclearance in a way that removes politics from the preclearance process, so we can ensure that voter registration applicants are who they say they are and that applicants are U.S. citizens.”
Voter verification process
Under federal law (the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA), states are required to verify the information provided by first time voter registration applicants with information currently on file in state or federal databases. In Georgia, the applicant’s first name, last name, date of birth, driver’s license number and the last four digits of his or her Social Security Number are verified with the Department of Driver Services (DDS) or Social Security Administration databases to ensure that the information matches.
Senate Bill 86
Senate Bill 86 requires those registering to vote to submit one of several forms of proof of United States citizenship with their application. Applicants may use a driver’s license number, birth certificate, U.S. passport, U.S. naturalization documents or alien registration number, Bureau of Indian Affairs card, as well as other documents. SB 86 was modeled after a similar law in Arizona, which has already received DOJ preclearance. SB 86 was signed into law in May 2009, but has not yet been submitted for preclearance.
Brian Kemp was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.