Ga. License Bill Tweaked: ‘Noncitizen’ Becomes ‘Ineligible Voter’

Jason Getz / Associated Press

A Georgia House committee approved a measure Monday that would require the phrase “ineligible voter” printed on licenses issued to people who don’t have U.S. citizenship.

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The bill originally required the term “noncitizen,” but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said he reconsidered after the legislation faced backlash.

“A driver’s license is the first form of an ID that people have, and obviously I just didn’t take into account for political correctness,” Powell said.

The Georgia Department of Driver’s Services currently prints the phrase “limited-term” on licenses issued to people without U.S. citizenship, but are in the country legally. Powell has said that phrase isn’t clear enough.

Supporters say the label is necessary to prevent ineligible voters from voting, but opponents argue the bill is unnecessary, and said there are already measures to ensure a person’s citizenship status is verified for voting.

“There are processes in place that prevent ineligible people from registering to vote, so there is no need,” said Helen Butler, executive director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, a group that helps register people to vote in the state.

Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said citizenship status is checked before someone can successfully register to vote.

Since 2014, she said the state has seen “four cases of noncitizens attempting to register to vote or attempted voting,” and that those cases are under investigation.

The state Senate is considering its own measure that would require drivers licenses issued to noncitizens to be formatted vertically, instead of horizontally.