ACLU of Georgia

Letter to SOS Warning that Current Voter Registration Forms Violate State and Federal Law

On February 20, 2018, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the the Office of Secretary of State warning that “there is an egregious error on the Georgia voter registration form provided by [this] office, an error that illegally misrepresents state and federal law and erects unlawful barriers to voter registration.”

 

The current Georgia voter registration form on the Secretary of State’s website contained the following instructions:

REQUIREMENT: If you are submitting this form by mail and you are registering for the first time in Georgia, enclose a copy of one of the following with your application: A copy of a current and valid photo ID, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address. 

This is followed by further instructions that state, “Place copy of ID in pocket” and “Trim copy of ID to size.”

While state and federal laws explicitly provide that first-time mail registrants may provide a copy of proof of name and address with their voter registration form, neither law requires voters to provide documentary proof of name and residence until the time that they actually vote for the first time in Georgia.

 

Additionally, when eligible voters provide a Georgia driver’s license or ID number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number at the time they register to vote, neither state nor federal law requires Georgia voters to submit documentary proof of name and address at all if state databases verify their residence.  

In March 2018, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Secretary of State agreed to change the illegal forms. However, in September 2018, the Georgia Public Broadcast and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported on the widespread use of those forms. Additionally, WABE reported that the SOS intended to continue to use them. 


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