A Democratic U.S. congressman has requested Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp provide more information about why the state pursued a proof-of-citizenship requirement for residents registering to vote using federal forms.
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told Kemp that he wants documents relating to the state’s request to modify the federal voter registration forms; any analysis of the impact modifying the forms would have on voters; and any count of the number of people who may have been prevented from registering using the forms this year, according to a private letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Republican Kemp, who testified last week about Georgia’s elections before a federal panel that included Cummings, indicated Wednesday that he would provide the documents despite what he said was Cummings’ political agenda. Cummings said during the hearing that he was concerned about any effort that could block minorities from casting a ballot.
Georgia has not enforced the proof-of-citizenship requirement, but it was one of three states that received permission to do it early this year from Brian Newby, the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
“To be clear, Representative Cummings is not interested in my office’s interactions with the EAC over the federal form,” Kemp said. “He wants to continue to push the false narrative that Republicans are actively working to suppress the minority vote, which is simply not borne out by the facts.”
Kemp testified last week that the state sought Newby’s permission because it wanted the federal forms to match what Georgia already asks for on state-produced voter registration forms. Kemp strongly denied any allegations of voter suppression, touting efforts such as the state’s online voter registration website and his office’s program encouraging registration and voting by eligible high schoolers.
On Wednesday, he said those efforts continue. “Just yesterday, I also published the first of four new videos on voter registration, absentee voting, advance in-person voting, and Election Day voting for non-English-speaking Georgians in five languages,” Kemp said.
Critics including Cummings have accused Newby of overstepping his authority by unilaterally granting the requests from Georgia, Alabama and Kansas to require citizenship documentation such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport when residents used a federal mail-in voter registration form.
While Alabama has also not enforced the requirement, Kansas officials have called it necessary to prevent voter fraud and said that there was no proof the requirement would be a barrier for some residents to register to vote.
Voter advocacy groups have said the requirement would have a chilling effect on voter registration in the three states, as well as impede civic participation in voting.
A federal appeals court panel temporarily blocked the requirement last month ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, although a lawsuit over the issue is ongoing.
Cummings, U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., and U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., have also called on Newby to rescind his permission, saying in a letter last week that they believe he violated internal agency policies and provided no justification for the decision.
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