October 27th, 2008
08:23 PM ET
3 years ago

Thousands of flagged voters can vote, court rules

(CNN) - Georgia must allow thousands of people whose citizenship was questioned by the state's new voter verification system to vote in the upcoming election, a panel of federal judges ruled Monday.

The court ruling will affect about 4,500 people in Georgia who had been "flagged" by the new voter verification system and faced being denied a chance to vote Nov. 4 because their citizenship was questioned.

It could also affect more than 50,000 other registered Georgia voters also flagged by the new system because of mismatches in their personal identification information, such as discrepancies in addresses.

The three-judge panel also ordered Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel to inform all the flagged voters that they can vote.

"We are very pleased that the court agreed with our legal position that the state violated the Voting Rights Act," said Elise Shore, a lawyer with one of the civil right groups who brought the lawsuit.

Shore said the ruling applies to the 4,500 Georgians that were flagged for citizenship reasons and she was uncertain whether it applied to the some 50,000 others that were flagged for other reasons.

The issue was raised in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Georgia college student who claimed that the secretary of state's voter verification system violated the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act and caused an illegal purge of voters in the weeks before the election.

Federal law prohibits widespread voter purges within 90 days of the election. In Georgia, that has become a heated issue with some calling the purge "voter suppression."

Handel, a Republican who began working on purging voter rolls from the time of her election in 2006, said the act of verifying voters is not voter suppression.

"I'm grateful for the District Court panel's decision which reinforces the state's voter registration verification procedures," Handel said in a statement. " It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs filed suit to halt this federally required process."


Filed under: Georgia • Voter Problems
soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. Nic Ledoux, Burlington VT

    Handel said in a statement, "It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs filed suit to halt this federally required process."

    Which translates to : "it's unfortunate that the judges will allow more democrats and immigrants to vote in this election."
    Why are republicans so focused on blocking people's right to vote? That’s the most un-American thing I've ever heard.

    October 27, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, VOTE FOR A STRAIGHT DEM TICKET!

    More voter suppression, as instituted by the Reptilians?

    October 27, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Louise in CA

    Thank you, judges. You've helped restore some of the faith I lost when the Supreme Court handed the 2000 election to GWB. On the behalf of struggling voters everywhere, thank you very much.

    October 27, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  4. Mike in Texas

    I am glad the courts made the right decision. The right to vote is a fundamental right of Americans. To deny someone because of a system purge is suppression.

    October 27, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. colby

    Voter verification stories such as this led me to check my own identification cards for accuracy. Everyone should do the same immediately. I found the street name on my I.D. misspelled and was able to have the error corrected. Having a voice in this election is far too important to take a chance of being denied the right to vote because of a clerical error.

    October 27, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. values voter

    We Americans will not stand for this corruption of our voting system by Republican Lawyers and Bankerd hell bent on trying to stop history.

    Lets throw the bums out!
    Make every vote count.

    October 27, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. Bukky

    Wow... with all this purging by republican appointees how can anyone say repubs DON'T cheat. Have you ever heard of a democratic appointee "purging" the voter roles?

    October 27, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Obama No Doubt!

    It's great that the Feds put the hammer down on Georgia. If Georgia had a problem with these voters being ineligible, they should have raised the issue more than 90 days before the election. That way, any questions about their citizenship could be thoroughly investigated. Raising these issues weeks (now only 1 week) before the election is ridiculous. These tactics are typical of Republicans in hopes of supressing voter turnout, especially amongst the disenfranchised and minorities. If it does turn out that these voters were not citizens, then their votes can be voided after the election. If they aren't allowed to vote and it turns out that they were citizens, they will have been denied their fundamental right to vote for no reason.

    October 27, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  9. Michelle in AL

    Hopefully all the purged voters will be allowed to vote upon proof that they are eligible. And I hope that Handel is ashamed of herself!

    October 27, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  10. Darrell

    This is great news. Now before you vote make sure you check all the facts and you will find some extreme corruption in Alaska.Palin has made a diaster by abusing her power and ethics in the Alaska Pipeline project.Do some research and you will find she is indeed not part of doing the right thing,and the opposite of a reformer on this so called independent energy project.She broke ethics law on the negotiations for bidding in a very big way.She is slated to be VP and runs on reform, and mavericking and is the complete opposite.Look out and beware

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  11. Let it go..........

    Evidently there seems to be flaws. FIX IT!

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. Jim Mulcahey, Plattsville

    How many of these voters are black? 90%–95%?

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. mms

    hurray for them!I'am tired of these republicans and their shady tactics.

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  14. A Wallace

    So the Sec'y of State found it unfortunate that US citizens filed suit to be allowed to vote- I guess she thought they should just walk away & keep their mouths shut-sorry Repugs– it's not going to be as easy to steal this one!

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  15. Dave Robson, Pawleys Island, SC

    I guess I must really be missing something. I am surprised that the process of voter verification and authentication appears to be an event that occurs shortly before an election. It would seem to make more sence for that to be an on-going process with notices being sent to questionable voters at a specific time each year. Surely that would avoid these 11th hour nightmares.

    October 27, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  16. From Texas

    Like Robert DeNiro said to Matt Damon in the movie, 'If I am going to err, I prefer to err on the side of democracy.'

    October 27, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. m.c.

    Of course everyone who is eligible should vote-the key word being "eligible". No fake registrations and no double, even triple dipping. All thinking people should by now realize that McCain is the solution to help Democrats and Republicans to make this country even greater than it is. Clinton and Bush have both caused what problems we do have, and those problems are small compared to the rest of the world. McCain always finishes his speeches by saying "God bless America". He always says how great the U.S.A is!!!! Obama says none of this. Obama only complains and says how this country needs change. I think this country is wonderful!!! VOTE McCain!!!!

    October 27, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. No Hillary = No Obama

    Now there is fraud in Colorado – similar to what was found in Nevada and other states. Entitlement should be the theme of the Obama campaign, from the candidate himself to those who think they are entitled to rig an election in his favor.

    October 27, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. Just Joe

    wow. What part of the Judges Order did REpublican Secretary of State Karen Handel not understand?
    The part that says they illegally purged voters or the part that these flagged voters must be allowed to vote?
    this is rather like Sarah Palin saying she was glad troopergate vindicated her when in fact they found she had violated ethics rules....
    This is the amazing thing about the Republican party, and it must have worked for them at one time... say that black is white and some people will actually believe you.

    October 27, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  20. Brent

    I'm relieved that the courts got it right this time. We don't want to have a repeat of what happened in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. It sickens me how Republicans are constantly trying to suppress the vote. To me, there is nothing more "Un-American" than corrupting the democratic election process.

    October 27, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  21. Sety

    Excellent. The systems can still be trusted.

    October 27, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  22. abraxis

    The court system worked on the side of the people against the republican machination to win at all cost which includes compromising the democratic principles of rule by the people. I am disappointed and dismayed by the blatant display of power of the aristocratic rule by them. Of course they would argue that they are protecting the citizens by limiting the invasion of those who are not eligible to participate in the democratic process of election.

    May be the repugs need to spend money on limiting and supervising their own politicians from engaging in illicit activities like the two convicts from Alaska.

    October 27, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  23. Charlie Bradley

    EVERYONE....

    GET OUT THERE AND VOTE ANYTIME BETWEEN NOW and 6:59:59 on NOVEMBER...EVEN IF YOU ARE STILL WAITING IN LINE WHEN YOUR POLLING PLACE CLOSES AT 7(or whenever your polling precincts close) YOU CAN STILL VOTE...just NO ONE else can come in AFTER YOUR PRECINCT closes

    TAKE YOUR TIME marking the ballot, bubbling in your circles, or touching the screens, or punching the cards....DONT GIVE ANY POLL WORKER OR ELECTION CLERK ANY ROOM FOR ERROR OR A REASON TO CRY FOUL.

    DONT LET YOUR STATE COME DOWN TO A TIE VOTE–WE DO NOT WANT there to be ANY QUESTION AT ALL WHO THE WINNER IS-either way, we want to know, and we want to know SOON–as early as possible even if its the wee hours of the morning NOVEMBER 5..

    I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE 50+ PER CENT club and ELECT BARACK OBAMA the next PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 27, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  24. R in Maine

    I wish that the election in Georgia would be close enough that this number of voters could mean that Georgia is still open to a fair count, but there are more subtle fixes that these people will try. Fortunately, they will not change the final outcome.

    October 27, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    Will Michagin and Colorado follow suit

    October 27, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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