July 24, 2018 - Atlanta, Ga: A voter walks away from the voting booths during the Georgia runoff election voting at Henry W. Grady High School on Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in Atlanta. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

Kemp defends Georgia’s ‘exact match’ voter registration law

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is rejecting a lawsuit threat from a civil rights organization over the state’s “exact match” method for verifying voter registration applications.

The threatened lawsuit would allege that the “exact match” system has a high error rate and a negative impact on African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters, according to a July 18 letter from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to Kemp.

Kemp, a Republican, said the potential lawsuit is a political stunt as he’s running for governor. He faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November general election.

“Nov. 6, 2018 is right around the corner, which means it’s high time for another frivolous lawsuit from liberal activist groups,” Kemp said in a statement Friday. “Federal and state law clearly authorize Georgia’s matching process for new registrants.”

The “exact match” law, passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year, requires voter registration information to match driver’s license, state ID card or Social Security records. Mismatched voter registrations are put on hold, and applicants are given 26 months to correct discrepancies.

“Georgia’s ‘no match, no vote’ policy has already disenfranchised tens of thousands of eligible voters and has had a particularly onerous effect on minorities and the poor,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a statement July 19.

The State Election Board plans to meet in closed-door executive session Tuesday to discuss ongoing litigation, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

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.