News release from the Secretary of State's Office
Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced that the State of Georgia's lawsuit is being filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain "preclearance" or approval of its federally-required voter verification process, which includes verifying that voter registration applicants are U.S. citizens.
Under federal law, Georgia must obtain federal preclearance of any change affecting voting by filing suit in federal court or by obtaining administrative approval through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The State twice submitted its voter verification process to the DOJ for administrative preclearance, but the DOJ refused to preclear either submission.
Secretary of State Kemp stated, "The Justice Department's unjustified denials of preclearance have resulted in Georgia being the only state in the country barred from complying with the federal Help America Vote Act's voter verification requirement. The State has filed this lawsuit for one reason: so we can comply with the Help America Vote Act by verifying that applicants are who they say they are and that they are U.S. citizens."
Under federal law (the Help America Vote Act), states are required to verify the information provided by first time voter registration applicants with information currently on file in state or federal databases. In Georgia, the applicant's first name, last name, date of birth, driver's license or ID number or the last four digits of his or her Social Security Number and United States citizenship status are verified with the Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration databases to ensure that the information matches.
Secretary Kemp added, "Fair and free elections form the foundation of our state and country. I am proud that we are taking this step to protect the integrity, security and fairness of Georgia's elections."
In May, Governor Perdue appointed Anne W. Lewis, a partner in the firm of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, to serve as Special Attorney General to represent the State. Lewis serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General in lawsuits challenging the State's voter ID law and previously represented voters in both a preclearance action and a constitutional challenge related to the State's 2001 redistricting plans. Governor Perdue also appointed attorneys Frank B. Strickland, partner of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, and Bryan P. Tyson, associate of Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP, as deputy Special Attorneys General.
Brian Kemp was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2010. Among the office's wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.