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ACLU Sues Secretary Of State Over Candidate Disqualification

State law requires candidates to be citizens of Georgia for at least two years to qualify for elections.
State law requires candidates to be citizens of Georgia for at least two years to qualify for elections.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press file

The ACLU of Georgia sued Georgia’s Secretary of State Office after it removed a candidate from the ballot.

Maria Palacios was the only Democratic candidate running for the state House in District 29. That’s in Hall County.

State law requires candidates to be citizens of Georgia for at least two years to qualify for elections.

Palacios has lived in Georgia for nine years but didn’t become a U.S. citizen until last year.

Polly Price, a law school professor at Emory University, said the state constitution doesn’t clearly define what citizenship looks like.

“Everything is treated in terms of residency,” Price said. “It’s not just in Georgia but it’s in other states as well. What matters is how long you’ve resided somewhere, not whether technically you’re a citizen.”

The Secretary of State’s office says you have to be a United States citizen in order to be considered a citizen of Georgia.

Price said Palacios has fulfilled requirements as a resident that would typically be considered citizenship duties.

“She would be required to register her car here, get a driver’s license here, this is not a temporary residence,” Price said. “She’s paying Georgia income tax. In a lot of ways Georgia considers her one of their own for all of these obligations.”

The ACLU wants a decision to get Palacios on the ballot by the general election in November.