Morales v. Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel

In the weeks leading up to the 2008 General Elections, MALDEF filed a lawsuit in Georgia against unconstitutional verification procedures that conflicted with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. MALDEF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and attorney Brian Spears, filed suit in U.S. District Court (N.D. GA.) seeking an order to stop Secretary of State Karen C. Handel from using database matching verification procedures that inaccurately flagged U.S. citizens as non-citizens. The matching system is used for both voter registrants and current registered voters on the rolls. The suit alleged that the flawed matching verification procedures were illegally implemented because Secretary Handel failed to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) before starting to use them.

The U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jack Camp, U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. and U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. issued a Preliminary Injunction requiring the State of Georgia to allow persons whose citizenship has been questioned pursuant to Georgia’s database matching system to cast a ballot in the 2008 General Elections. As well, the Court ordered Secretary Handel to “make diligent and immediate efforts to notify, in a uniform manner, every person whose voter registration presently remains flagged.”

MALDEF’s suit protected thousands of Georgia voters from incorrectly being flagged as ineligible to cast a ballot and continued the fight against flawed and poorly conceived verification procedures that frequently affect minority and ethnic voters.

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund