Georgia continues to be the site of some major voting rights battles, as its Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) faces off against Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in the governor’s race.
The latest shenanigans have to do with concerns about a potential data vulnerability that was identified by a voter late last week and was passed on to Kemp, who has been sued over his office’s failure to address similar election security issues. Instead of investigating the vulnerability, Kemp’s secretary of state’s office posted a press release Sunday morning claiming that it was investigating a failed attempt by Georgia Democrats to hack the system.
Kemp is also facing lawsuits challenging the state’s exact match law, which requires that the info on voter registration forms matches what’s in the state’s records; tens of thousands of voters’ registrations have been frozen over discrepancies as small as a misplaced hyphen. The challengers were successful on Friday in getting the judge to address a problem with how recently naturalized citizens were wrongfully getting caught up in the system due to its reliance on outdated records. The order makes it easier for those voters to show proof of citizenship so they can vote, and also makes clear that they should be made aware that they have the option to cast a provisional ballot at polling sites if they don’t have their proof of citizenship available to show election workers.
Kemp additionally was sued over the state’s signature match system, which allows local officials to reject absentee ballot and ballot applications because they believe the signatures don’t match the ones they have on record for the voter. His attempt to get an appeals court to halt a lower court’s order against him in the case fell short Friday, with the appeals court panel denying the request 2-1.
Elsewhere, voting rights advocates have had less success in court, in large part due to how courts have interpreted a Supreme Court precedent known as the “Purcell Principle,” which discourages changes to voting practices close to an election, to the detriment of voters.
In North Dakota, Native Americans were unable to get a district court to examine burdens they’ve faced in trying to comply with a new voter ID law, which requires ID docs to have a residential address, despite the fact that many tribes don’t assign street addresses for their members. (Some Native Americans depend on PO Boxes or other non-residential addresses for mail and ID-purposes instead.) The district court had previously watered down the law for the midterms, but an appeals court halted that decision and the Supreme Court also allowed the full law with the residential address requirement to go into effect.
Voting rights advocates also lost in a lawsuit they brought in Kansas challenging the decision by election officials in Dodge City — where Hispanics make up 60 percent of its 27,000 residents — to move the the city’s single polling place a mile outside of town and not near any public transportation. Here too, the judge refused to order the opening of another polling place, citing the nearness of Tuesday’s election.
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