Georgia Will Keep Using Inaccurate Voter Registration Forms Ahead Of Midterms

Proof of residence can be presented to poll workers when a voter goes to cast a ballot. It’s not required to be included with voter registration applications, according to Georgia law.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press file

Georgia election officials will continue passing out inaccurate voter registration applications ahead of the November midterm elections and until at least next year, the Secretary of State’s office told WABE last week.

The old forms say potential voters must include documents with their application that prove their residence — for example, a photo ID or utility bill. But that’s not required, according to state law. Proof of residence can instead be presented to poll workers when a voter goes to cast their ballot.

The ACLU of Georgia said the inaccuracies on the applications create a barrier to people exercising their right to vote.

“By putting in this false requirement, you’re actually preventing people from registering to vote,” said Sean Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.

Potential voters don’t keep copies of IDs or other documents handy, Young said, and so they may decide not to register when reviewing the inaccurate application.

However, the current application still works. Election officials are required to accept and process voter registration applications without proof of residence included.

In fact, the Secretary of State’s office said Friday it had opened an investigation into the elections office in Baldwin County after the ACLU of Georgia alleged officials there rejected voter registration applications that did not include proof of residence.

Baldwin County registrar Randy Morrow said the county accepts and processes all voter registration applications, regardless of whether they include proof of residence.

“We’re here to register people and be sure that they vote in their right precinct,” Morrow said.

Young said Georgia has used the same inaccurate forms for at least a decade.

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Georgia objected to the language on the applications, and last month, the Secretary of State’s office posted a revised version of the form online.

However, staff in the Secretary of State’s office said it receives regular shipments of voter registration forms, and wouldn’t get a delivery of the revised forms until at least the beginning of next year.

The state distributes voter registration forms to counties based on need. Counties often distribute the forms, for example, to civic groups conducting voter registration drives.

At a voter registration drive in a DeKalb County YMCA over the weekend, volunteers were using a stack of the inaccurate forms.

“We urge voters and organizations to continue using whatever voter registration forms are provided,” said Young, “and to submit them with or without copies of photo identification.”