A Fulton County judge’s ruling: ‘No proof’ of lost registered voters

Our AJC colleague Kristina Torres has the details here, but below you will find a copy of the ruling by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher decision not to intervene on behalf of those alleging that tens of thousands of newly registered voters have been lost in the system.

The lawsuit was filed by the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights earlier this month. Here’s the meat of Brasher’s ruling, giving Secretary of State Brian Kemp a win just a week before the Nov. 4 election:

In this case...the Petitioners have failed to set out a denial of the performance of a clear legal duty which performance has been denied. Instead, they have merely set out suspicions and fears that the Respondents will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.

The Petitioners have failed to allege, much less show, the counties' registrars past or continued failure to process voter registration applications. The Petitioners assume that no Respondent is carrying out its mandatory duty because the Petitioners do not see a small sample of new voters' names appearing on certain lists. This assumption is not appropriate, is entirely devoid of evidentiary support, and cannot be used as a legal basis for the grant of a writ of mandamus. ...

Likewise, the Petitioners have failed to allege, much less show, the Secretary of State's past or continued failure to place eligible voters' names on the State's voter rolls. As with the County election registrars, the Petitioners ask this Court to presume that the Secretary has failed to carry out this mandatory duty because the Petitioners do not see new names appearing on the state-wide elector list.' Yet once again, the Petitioners have failed to come forward with evidence showing that the Secretary of State has failed to carry out this duty, or even that this duty is ripe, since it can only be carried out after the various counties' election registrars register an eligible voter.

Not only is there no proof that the Respondents have failed to fulfill their duties, but there is also affirmative proof to the contrary. The Secretary of State and the county registrars have supplied evidence in their responsive pleadings, in their motions to dismiss, and at the hearing on this matter that they have fulfilled, and that they are continuing to fulfill, their mandatory statutory duties regarding newly-registered voters.

Kemp, in addition to being in charge of Georgia's election apparatus, is also running for re-election -- and was campaigning today with Gov. Nathan Deal. Here's what Kemp said to a Republican crowd of about 50 in Columbus:

"We just got word that Judge Brasher has dismissed all of their claims. They were trying to get us to sign things and do a settlement, and when you're right you don't do that. We knew that the employees of the Secretary of State's office, and our partners at the county level, had processed all the voter registration forms they were given. I can assure you that the process has been completed.

"We hope this group will put an end to this. Our hard-working election workers don't need to be wasting their time with this ridiculous lawsuit."

One person who refused to give Kemp a clean bill of health was U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who our AJC colleague Kristina Torres caught in his Atlanta office. Said Lewis:

"I think there’s been a deliberate, systematic attempt to dampen this whole process. I think the secretary of state has showed his hand. You’re supposed to be nonpartisan as the chief elections official of the state.

"I feel for the people who could be denied the casting of their vote. And I would tell them they should continue to fight. You cannot afford to let it rest. It doesn’t make sense 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed to go through this.

"I think they should show up and cast a provisional ballot. Sometimes, you just have to present your body to be a witness. Otherwise it is a shame and a disgrace for people who tried (to register)."

Click here for the ruling, or read it below:

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.