ACLU Sues Georgia For Rejecting Absentee Ballots Without Proper Notice

TUCKER, GA - JUNE 20:  'I'm a Georgia Voter' stickers are available for people to cast their ballots during a special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District special election at St. Bede's Episcopal Church on June 20, 2017 in Tucker, Georgia. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel are running to replace Tom Price, who is now the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The election will fill a congressional seat that has been held by a Republican since the 1970s.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Georgia election officials, this one claiming that officials are giving insufficient notice to absentee voters that their ballots are being rejected because their signatures do not match their signatures within other state records.

The ACLU, on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and the Asian-American Advancing Justice-Atlanta, brought the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Georgia against state and local officials, including Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), the GOP nominee for governor.

The complaint is seeking a court order allowing voters whose absentee ballots are rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch to address the issue up until three days after Election Day or three days after they receive a notification of the rejected ballot (whichever is later).

The complaint also requests that those whose applications for absentee ballots are rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch be given until the Friday before the election to address the issue.

“Georgia law puts elections officials in the difficult position of acting as handwriting experts,” the lawsuit said. “Needless to say, elections officials are laypersons who do not undergo formal handwriting-analysis education or training.”

A similar law in New Hampshire was struck down by a federal judge earlier this year.

On Monday evening, another group filed a lawsuit against elections officials in one particular county, Gwinnett County, as well as state officials, for the county’s relatively high rate of absentee ballot rejection so far. Gwinnett County was also named as a defendant in the ACLU lawsuit, which names other county registration boards as defendants as well.

In a statement to TPM responding to the lawsuit filed Monday evening, a spokeswoman for Georgia’s secretary of state said, “Under state law, voter eligibility for absentee by mail voting is solely determined by local officials.” She added: “The Secretary of State and State Election Board are not involved in those decisions.”

Kemp also faces a lawsuit for the state’s “exact match” voter registration law, that puts voter registrations on hold for discrepancies between application forms and state records as minor as a misplaced hyphen. Voters affected by that law are given 26 months to rectify the registration issue —including by presenting ID when they show up to vote within that period — before they’re fully purged from the rolls.

Read the ACLU’s lawsuit below:

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