Secretary of State Kemp Applauds Governor Perdue’s Decision to Seek Federal Court Approval of Voter Registration Procedures
Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today applauded Governor Perdue’s decision to appoint a special attorney general to obtain federal court approval of two election procedures that will ensure that Georgia’s voter registration rolls contain only eligible voters. By Executive Order, Governor Perdue appointed Anne W. Lewis, a partner in the firm of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, to serve as Special Attorney General. Lewis serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General in lawsuits challenging the State’s voter ID law and previously represented voters in both a preclearance action and a constitutional challenge related to the State’s 2001 redistricting plans.
Governor Perdue also appointed attorneys Frank B. Strickland, partner of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, and Bryan P. Tyson, associate of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, as deputy Special Attorneys General.
The two procedures – the voter verification process and Senate Bill 86 – allow the State to ensure that voter registration applicants are who they say they are and that applicants are U.S. citizens. Georgia must obtain federal preclearance of any change affecting voting by bringing a declaratory judgment action in federal court or, in the alternative, by submitting the change to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for administrative preclearance. In February, the DOJ 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 throughout the last year.
In April, Secretary of State Kemp announced that he would work with Governor Perdue to pursue preclearance of Georgia’s voter verification process and Senate Bill 86 in federal court.
Secretary Kemp noted today, “Fair and free elections form the foundation of our state and country. Unfortunately, Georgia remains the only state in the country barred from complying with the federal Help America Vote Act’s voter verification process. I am proud that we are taking this step to protect the integrity, security and fairness of Georgia’s elections.”
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
SB 86 was signed into law in May 2009 and 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 is modeled after a similar law in Arizona, which the DOJ precleared.
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.