Georgia’s early voting period started on Monday and ballots are being thrown out, according to the ACLU of Georgia.

The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday over the absentee ballot signature-matching law.

Described in the ACLU’s complaint, they say that “[f]or the most part, signature variations are of little consequence in a person’s life. But in the context of absentee voting, these variations become profoundly consequential under Georgia’s signature-match requirement law.” 

The organization filed the suit on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order that would provide due process to absentee voters whose ballots are discarded due to an alleged signature mismatch.

ACLU of Georgia’s lawsuit states, “[a] person’s signature … may vary for a variety of reasons, both intentional and unintentional. Unintentional factors include age, physical and mental condition, disability, medication, stress,  accidents, and inherent differences in a person’s neuromuscular coordination and stance. Variants are more prevalent in people who are older, disabled, or who speak English as a  second language.”

Georgia law requires that election officials must void any absentee ballots or absentee ballot applications if the signatures in the voter’s paperwork do not match the records in the local elections office.

The lawsuit specifically requests that the court to require elections officials to provide absentee voters the opportunity to confirm their identity or otherwise resolve such discrepancies.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to argue this important case concerning the sacred, constitutional right to vote,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We look forward to a fair resolution that will protect voter rights for all Georgians, because voting is the cornerstone of our democracy.” 

This recent lawsuit adds to the exact-match lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a coalition of other civil rights groups last week against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is the Republican candidate vying to be Georgia’s Governor where 53,000 voter registration applications are said not to meet the voter exact-match criteria.

Secretary Kemp maintained in a press release that new registered voters’ applications that are pending will not get rejected.

“…federal and state law clearly authorize Georgia’s matching process for new registrants, and the 11th Circuit has already ruled in favor of a similar law in Florida. Not a single voter whose status is pending for failure to verify will get rejected this election cycle,” said Kemp. 

Pending registrants can still vote if they show a government-issued ID that considerably matches the registration application. The government-issued ID, like a driver’s license, can be produced at early voting locations or on Election Day.

Voters on a pending list cannot vote by mail or absentee until the discrepancies are corrected.

Georgia accepts six kinds of photo ID: a state driver’s license, a state or federal ID card, a valid employee ID from any government agency, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID or a tribal photo ID.

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. in the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Courtroom 2107.

Below are the court documents filed on behalf of the ACLU of Georgia:

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Jeremy Spencer
Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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