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Georgia wants newly registered voters to prove citizenship

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November 19, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

ATLANTA, Georgia: The top elections official in the State of Georgia wants approval from the federal government to require newly registered voters to prove their citizenship before they can cast a ballot[1].

Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced that he filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice on November 15, 2010, in order to enforce the policy. Supporters of the Secretary of State's proposal said that the new measure would streamline the registration process by keeping ineligible voters off the state's voter list on the basis of citizenship[1].

Opponents of the measure argue that the new policy could disenfranchise voters. People who oppose the measure argue that a legal voter may be kept off the voter rolls over not having proper identification such as a driver's license or a birth certificate. Secretary of State Kemp said that if Georgia is allowed to proceed on the measure, it would make the state "a national model for election security and integrity."[1]

Georgia's move comes after the U.S. Justice Department granting more powers to state and local elections officials to prove a registered voter's citizenship and identity. This is done by checking the voter's name against state or federal databases[1].

Georgia is forced to seek court action due to a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that requires states with histories of discriminatory voting practices to file lawsuits or get Justice Department approval in order to change election laws[1].

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