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Feds: Don't use databases to check citizenship

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The Department of Justice says a Georgia program to check voter citizenship isn't fair.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Thurbert Baker, the DOJ says the program, which checks Motor Vehicle Services and Social Security databases, disproportionately flags blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and places an undue burden on them to prove their citizenship in order to register to vote.

Attorney Maurice King, Jr. says a citizenship check really isn't needed at all in Georgia. That's because there is already an oath declaring citizenship on voter registration forms. 

 "If someone puts false information on that application, that's a crime and they could be prosecuted, so I don't really see why you would need to cross reference the application with some other database to determine whether or not the individuals are citizens," said King.

But not everyone always tells the truth, and for that, a citizenship check was in place in Georgia that checked drivers license and Social Security databases to make sure folks registering to vote, were in fact, citizens. Ginger 19:44:50

"Basically, it takes away our checks and balances,"  said Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson. "Now you just go on the voter's word, they complete on the application, you don't have a means to check and balance to make sure the information is accurate, you are just going to take them at their word."

The Department of Justice says a disproportionate number of black people were targeted to prove their citizenship, as were Hispanics and Asians.

King says it's all the more reason the program should never have been implemented. "The individual who were denied because of the program which had not been pre-cleared, probably should have been given the right to vote. Georgia probably should not have implemented the program until it was pre-cleared."

The ruling does not affect the state's recently signed voter citizenship law, though it will also need clearance from the Justice Department.

Secretary of State Karen Handel criticized the decision saying politics got in the way of common sense.

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