Georgia sued over voter registration records, again

Georgia is being sued for the second time this year over its handling of voter records, this time by a group seeking more information from Secretary of State Brian Kemp about how the state decides to reject applicants trying to register to vote.

Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit active on voting and election administration policy, said in federal court filings this week that it has sought public records since May 2014 detailing Georgia’s process for reviewing voter registration applications and the subsequent reasons why applications may be rejected.

The group alleges that Kemp responded with incomplete database records, despite back-and-forth negotiations over the past two years.

In a statement released by his office Thursday, Kemp said the state had “been more than cooperative and transparent with Project Vote. It is disappointing that they have resorted to this unnecessary measure, wasting taxpayer dollars, when our office has acted in good faith.”

The complaint details discussions between the two parties through May of this year, when frustration seemed to boil over. At one point, according to the suit, Ryan Germany, Kemp’s general counsel, said he would try to respond to another request for updated records “as soon as I can” but added he felt it was a “fishing expedition,” and “accused Project Vote of ‘not …approaching this in a good faith manner.’”

The group said it was entitled to the records under the federal National Voting Rights Act. In the suit, it said it wanted to make sure Georgia is properly processing voter registration applications and that would-be voters were not being rejected due to clerical errors or inadequate “quality control procedures.”

In May, the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge to deny a request to dismiss a separate lawsuit filed by the Georgia NAACP and government watchdog group Common Cause accusing Georgia of illegally bumping voters off the state’s rolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.