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Federal Court Provides Immediate Relief for Thousands of Georgia Voters

Court Orders Georgia Sec. of State Brian Kemp to Permit Voters Inaccurately Flagged by State’s Flawed System to Vote

Atlanta, Georgia, November 2, 2018 — The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ordered Secretary of State Brian Kemp to allow voters who have been flagged and placed in pending status due to citizenship to vote a regular ballot in the November 2018 election.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of a coalition of civil rights groups, challenged the law in federal court and filed a request for emergency relief before the November 6, 2018 Election.

“With respect to Tuesday’s election, we deem this a total victory in our fight against Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s exact match scheme,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Court has recognized — even at this early stage of this important case — that our clients have a significant chance of proving that Secretary Kemp’s “exact match” scheme interferes with our precious right to vote. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the sort of obstacles that are being placed in front of voters — disproportionately minority voters. We will continue to fight to knock every one of them down. For now, we are thrilled that this order will allow over 3000 voters to vote this Tuesday without being subjected to unnecessary hurdles.”

“This is a major victory for Georgia voters and instills hope that our democracy will function as it should in Georgia on Election Day,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “The court clearly recognized the harm that the state’s flawed ‘exact match’ system caused voters, particularly minorities. It’s especially gratifying that the state is required to take steps to educate registrars and poll managers on how to properly verify voter eligibility.”

"We are very pleased with the commonsense solution that Judge Ross issued to ensure that thousands of new citizens will have their voices heard in this election,” said Phi Nguyễn, Litigation Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. “We will be on the ground on Election Day to help members of our immigrant communities know and exercise their voting rights."

“Today’s ruling protects the right to vote of eligible voters who have been incorrectly accused of being non-citizens by Georgia election officials,” said Phyllis Blake, President of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP. “Judge Ross’s ruling will ensure that these voters will be able to cast a regular ballot on Election Day if they bring their proof of citizenship to the polls. Today is a good day for Georgia voters, and the NAACP will continue to monitor this situation and ensure that county and state election officials do their part and prevent any voters from being improperly disenfranchised in next week’s election.”

“The right to vote is fundamental, and today’s ruling is an important step towards protecting Georgia voters in Tuesday’s election,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “Today’s ruling ensures that no voter will be disenfranchised because he or she has been incorrectly accused of being a non-citizen by Georgia election officials. We encourage all affected voters to take advantage of the court’s ruling and come to the polls on Election Day with appropriate identification.”

A coalition of civil rights organizations filed the lawsuit on October 11 and filed an emergency motion on October 19. The case is called Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda v. Kemp.

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