Judge orders Georgia to release database records on voter registration

A federal judge has ordered Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to release more detailed public records about why the state decides to reject applicants trying to register to vote, granting a temporary victory to voter advocates as a lawsuit over the records continues.

A spokeswoman for Kemp said he would comply with the order, which includes an Oct. 7 deadline.

In his ruling granting the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr. said the “threatened injury” over blocking the release of certain voter registration records “outweighs the harm” to the state, which had sought to dismiss the suit over privacy concerns and concerns it would be time-consuming and costly.

Duffey said the state did not have to release every record sought by Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit active on voting and election administration policy, but most of them. He said he set his deadline with a nod to getting the records out ahead of Georgia’s statewide Oct. 11 voter registration deadline.

Project Vote 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.

Kemp has said his office was cooperative and transparent with Project Vote over the issue, and that his staff had acted in good faith ahead of a suit he called unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Candice Broce, Kemp’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday that while the litigation was ongoing, “we will be working with Project Vote to produce documents that the court has deemed responsive to their requests.”

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.