USDOJ Insists Georgia in Error on Voter Purge, in Statement of Interest filed in Lawsuit
(APN) ATLANTA — On May 04, 2016 the United States Department of Justice, (USDOJ) filed a Statement of Interest of the United States, recommending the lawsuit filed against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and his office not be dismissed as requested by the State of Georgia.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Common Cause Georgia and the Georgia NAACP filed a lawsuit in February 2016 alleging that Kemp has continuously defied the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) by continuing to enforce sections within the Georgia Election Code related to voter purging.
The State of Georgia had sought for the case to be dismissed, to which the plaintiffs had replied in opposition.
“This case asks whether, consistent with federal law, a state may consider a registered voter’s failure to vote to be reliable evidence that the voter has become ineligible to vote by virtue of a change of residence, thus triggering the designated NVRA purge process,” the USDOJ wrote.
“Defendant argues that it can. In fact, it cannot,” the USDOJ wrote.
“Accordingly, the United States submits this Statement of Interest to address proper NVRA and HAVA standards,” the Department wrote.
In 1994, Georgia submitted voter purge procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), under a process required at the time called Section 5 preclearance [but since stricken by the Supreme Court of the U.S.], the USDOJ found them unsatisfactory.
“In 1993, Congress enacted the NVRA. In 1994, Georgia enacted its first post-NVRA purging procedures, Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-234; 21-2-235. Georgia submitted those purge procedures to the Department of Justice for preclearance review under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Department objected, based on a determination that those procedures violated the NVRA by using non-voting alone to trigger the purge process,” the USDOJ wrote.
In 1997, The State of Georgia re-submitted amended procedures, and while the USDOJ did not officially object, the USDOJ firmly reiterates here in the Statement of Interest that their lack of objection was not an approval.
“In 1997, Georgia submitted a slightly revised version of its purge procedures, functionally similar to the procedures currently in Section 21-2-234, for preclearance review under Section 5,” the USDOJ wrote.
“The Department did not object to that submission, but this lack of objection did not reflect or imply any finding regarding compliance with the NVRA,” the USDOJ wrote.
“To the contrary, consistent with prevailing law and Department regulations, however, the Section 5 determination letter expressly indicated that the non-objection did not bar subsequent litigation to enforce the NVRA,” the USDOJ wrote.
The USDOJ also cited a recent case, Wilson v. The United States, where the court upheld a voter purge law in California on the receipt of returned mail marked by the post office. The court in this case distinguished this requirement from a voter purge law based simply on someone’s lack of participation in recent elections, which the court said would not have been legal.
“The United States respectfully submits that Defendant’s (Kemp) motion to dismiss should be denied,” the Department wrote.
“Over the course of his career, Kemp has attracted attention for his partisan gimmicks to undermine the integrity of Georgia’s elections,” the Democratic Party of Georgia stated in a press release.
“The Secretary of State’s website has a well-documented history of inadequacy. Just last year, Kemp’s office violated and undermined the economic security of Georgia voters by publishing private information—including Social Security numbers—of registered voters,” the DPG stated.
“Time and time again, Brian Kemp has proven to be unqualified to run a six foot extension cord, much less Georgia’s elections,” DPG Chair Dubose Porter opined.