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Judge orders Georgia to clear way for new citizens to vote

By Danielle Haynes
Judge orders Georgia to clear way for new citizens to vote
A federal judge said new U.S. citizens should be allowed to prove their citizenship in order to vote in Georgia. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Friday said Georgia must allow 3,000 new U.S. citizens to vote in the midterm elections if they show proof of citizenship.

The ruling is another blow to the state's so-called "exact match" law in which voter registration information must match exactly the information on a person's vehicle registration and government-issued identification. The law has come under scrutiny for putting some 50,000 early voters on hold, in some cases because of typos or differences in signatures.

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Three thousands of those registrants are new citizens. State identifications often aren't updated with citizenship status until the next time a new citizen renews their ID.

"Allowing poll managers to verify proof of citizenship would alleviate the severe burden on individuals who have been flagged and placed in pending status for citizenship while still serving the state's interest of ensuring that only United States' citizens are voting," District Judge Eleanor Ross said in her ruling.

Last week, District Judge Leigh Martin May issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state of Georgia from throwing out absentee ballots and applications in cases where a voter's signature didn't match their paperwork. She ruled that officials should be required to allow voters to contest election officials' determinations and prove their identity.

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The Republican candidate for governor in Georgia, Brian Kemp, has faced scrutiny for declining to step down from his roll as secretary of state, which oversees the state's elections. He faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in Tuesday's midterm election.

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