Politics

Why Georgia Republicans Don't Want People to Vote This Summer

April 21st 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Update 5/4/2017: On Thursday, a federal judge "temporarily reopened voter registration" for Georgia's 6th District, according to The Hill.

AJC.com reports:

"U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote.

"Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta.

"Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21."

Read ATTN:'s previous story about the lawsuit below.

Civil rights advocates are suing Georgia and its Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) for blocking registered voters from a runoff election.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed a lawsuit in conjunction with other civil rights groups in Atlanta federal court, on Thursday, aimed at extending a voter registration deadline that the groups say is unfair.

As of right now, anyone who was not registered to vote by March 20 cannot vote in a June 20 runoff election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel for a seat in Congress. On Tuesday, Georgia held a "jungle primary" special election, but none of the candidates won 50 percent of the vote, forcing the June runoff vote between the two top candidates.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Georgia NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, ProGeorgia State Table, Third Sector Development and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta.

Advocates are calling the deadline an attempt to make voting difficult in order to keep a Republican in the seat recently vacated by Health Secretary Tom Price following his appointment to the Trump administration. The special election has been more contentious than expected, leading some experts to wonder if there could be a Democratic upset by Ossoff. The hashtag #Flipthe6th started trending on Twitter before Tuesday's vote.

Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote on Tuesday, several percentage points from clinching a victory, according to CNN. Handel received 19.8 percent of the vote.

"This election is a special election, but the tactics that the secretary of state and the state of Georgia are employing are anything but special," Francys Johnson, state president of the Georgia NAACP, reportedly said on a press call. "They are typical, and that is to make voting difficult, to make voting something that all Georgians cannot participate in, and we believe that flies in the face of both the letter and the spirit of the National Voter Registration Act."

Georgia election officials say that because the runoff is a continuation of Tuesday's vote they don't have to reopen the voter registration deadline. That means that unless people were registered in time for the first special election, they can't vote in the runoff.

The National Voter Registration Act requires voter registration applications to be "deemed as timely" if they're "submitted to designated state and local officials, or postmarked if submitted by mail, at least 30 days before a federal election," according to the Department of Justice website.

The Lawyer's Committee is arguing that not allowing people to register to vote before the special election violates federal law, and the voter registration deadline prior to the runoff should be at the end of May, according to the Huffington Post.

"The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee, reportedly told the press on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.”

People on Twitter reacted to the accusations of voter suppression against the state of Georgia.

Some people called the deadline a strategy by conservatives to win the runoff.

Voting has historically been more difficult for low-income people and minorities.

Millions of people can't vote this year because they don't have a government-issued photo ID.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, September 8, 2016

Voter ID laws and other restrictive requirements can block access to low-income, ethnic minority voters, and transgender voters who don't have the money or transportation to fill out the appropriate voting documents or pay for the correct ID. Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program told ATTN: in January that Americans should be wary of increased voting restrictions in their community that can hurt voting rights.

"At the end of the day a lot of the legislation around voting happens at the state level rather than the federal level," she said. "When you have examples of new voting restrictions at the state level and examples on the federal level working really hard to diminish federal protections for voting rights, that's something to be concerned about."

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