ACLU of Georgia

Federal Judge Proposes Injunction Against Sec. of State Office Involving Absentee Ballots

By Ashley Bridges | WJBF | October 30, 2018

(WJBF) – A federal judge is proposing an injunction against the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. It is a case involving absentee ballot signatures. 
Counties rejecting absentee voter applications and absentee ballots because the signatures allegedly don’t match those on record…some signatures, decades old.  Who’s making those calls?
“The people who are rejecting these are not handwriting experts, they are lay people,” says Sean Young. “They are hard working elections officials who never signed up to be handwriting experts.”
Why shouldn’t signatures have to match? Well a few reasons…
“I think anyone who has a grandparent or elderly parent who’s worked with them on forms can attest to that,” says Young. “It can change because someone has a physical disability that they didn’t have before.  Or they can change because someone is sitting differently.”
And who were these rejections hurting the most? The most vulnerable…the elderly and disabled.
So counties rejecting the signature and the ballot — with no timeline for when the voter finds out and no specific recourse to fix it.  In many cases, making the votes of these voters not count.
“These are voters who did everything right, they applied for an absentee ballot, they got one, and they signed it.”  
The judge saying, that’s unacceptable, rejecting arguments by the Attorney General and Secretary of State’s offices that it would be too difficult — ruling “defendants cannot cry foul”
The judge also seemingly baffled by their claims that it would call into question the integrity of the election to allow all legal, eligible voters to vote– the court instead ruling that “to the contrary it strengthens it.”
“All we’re doing is protecting the sacred and constitutional right to vote.  And if someone suggests that protecting the right to vote is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”
But by the judge’s ruling he is right.  So, moving forward, the Secretary of State’s office must mandate to the counties, that if they determine a signature doesn’t match…they cannot automatically reject the ballot.  Instead, the ballot becomes provisional and the voter must be given a chance to prove his or her identity and have their vote be counted.