Federal District Court Grants ACLU Restraining Order Prohibiting Rejection of Absentee Ballots Over Signature Problems
An absentee ballot from the 2008 general election.
Yesterday a federal district court granted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia’s motion for a temporary restraining order prohibiting election officials from rejecting absentee ballots due to signature mismatches.
“We are pleased that the court has enforced the due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution,” Sean Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia said in a statement. “[The] ruling is a victory for democracy and for every absentee voter in the state of Georgia.”
The court has proposed the following three-fold order, according to ACLU materials:
- All absentee ballots that would have otherwise been rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch be considered a provisional ballot that will be counted after the election if the voter confirms their identity
- All absentee ballot applications that would otherwise have been rejected due to an alleged signature mismatch shall also result in the issuance of a provisional ballot that will be counted subject to the above procedures.
- This order applies to all absentee ballot applications and ballots that have been submitted and will be submitted in this election. It will not apply to voters who have already cast an in-person vote.
The parties have until noon on October 25th to submit any objections to the form of this proposed order, according to ACLU materials.
The original lawsuit the ACLU filed on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta explained why the restraining order was necessary. “[A] person’s signature… may vary for a variety of reasons, both intentional and unintentional. Unintentional factors include age, physical and mental condition, disability, medication, stress, accidents and inherent differences in a person’s neuro-muscular coordination and stance. Variants are more prevalent in people who are older, disabled or who speak English as a second language.”
The court’s order comes at a crucial moment as rumors over voter suppression in Georgia swirl. According to numerous reports, Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Brian Kemp has purged over half a million voters from the rolls.
“We are very pleased that the court has granted our request for injunctive relief that will help protect our community members from disenfranchisement,” Phi Nguyễn, litigation director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything in our power to make ensure our communities are not silenced.”
To check the status of your voter registration, request an absentee ballot or find your polling place, click here.