Suit claims Georgia voter registration violates federal law

A Washington-based advocacy group has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the complaint in federal court in Georgia on behalf of five civil rights and voting rights organizations. It claims Georgia law cuts off voter registration for federal run-off elections two months earlier than guaranteed under federal law.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office dismisssed the suit as a “completely political effort to attack Secretary Kemp.”

“This law has been in place since Cathy Cox was in office and we will fight it in court,” Kemp chief of staff David Dove said.

A key example, the committee said, is the coming June runoff for the 6th Congressional District. Anyone who had not registered to vote in March cannot register to participate in the June runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

The suit says that Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to allow anyone to vote in a federal election if they register at least 30 days before that election. Georgia, however, allows people register at least 30 days before an election, but does not allow a person to vote in the runoff if they had not registered in time for the primary.

“This case is all about making sure people who want to vote are able to vote,” Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee, said.

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The plaintiffs are the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, ProGeorgia State Table, Third Sector Development, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.