mcloudy.png
Wednesday July 8th, 2020 7:00PM

Judge rules against Georgia elections chief in records case

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge has rejected Georgia officials' arguments in an election-related lawsuit and ruled that information being sought by a journalist and an activist is subject to public disclosure.

Investigative journalist Greg Palast and civil rights activist Helen Butler are seeking lists that were produced as part of Georgia's involvement in a database designed to share voter registration data between participating states

The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, created by the Kansas Secretary of State's office in 2005, was promoted as a way to compare voter registration lists to identify people registered in more than one state. The program's stated purpose was to clean voter records and prevent voter fraud, but it has been criticized for a high error rate and lax security.

Palast and Butler sued Georgia's then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp in October 2018 for original copies of the 2016 and 2017 lists provided to his office by Crosscheck. They argued that Crosscheck “has been determined to disproportionately impact voters of color.”

Kemp, a Republican, served as the state's top elections official when he narrowly beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in the 2018 governor's race. He was repeatedly accused of voter suppression by Abrams and her allies. He vehemently denied the allegations.

State lawyers argued that the secretary of state's office wasn't required to keep the records that Palast and Butler are seeking, and that the plaintiffs sought documents they knew the secretary of state's office didn't have. They argued the lawsuit should be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross wrote in a Feb. 4 order that Palast and Butler “are entitled to access to the 2016 and 2017 Crosscheck lists.”

Palast and Butler had cited a provision of the National Voter Registration Act of 1983 that requires election officials to retain and make available for at least two years “all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters.”

Lawyers for the state argued that Georgia didn't use information from Crosscheck to challenge or remove voter registrations and, therefore, had no obligation to keep that data.

Ross noted that when Georgia joined Crosscheck, it agreed to language that says participating states “agree to share voter registration information for the purposes of cross checking and identifying duplicate registrations and instances of multiple votes by the same individuals.”

For that reason, the argument that the state didn't use the lists for any review of its registered voters is “unpersuasive,” Ross wrote.

No evidence has been provided to show that the secretary of state's office actually has the lists, but the record does show that the requests for the lists were timely and that the lists must be kept for two years, Ross wrote.

Ross' order came in response to a request by state lawyers for summary judgment, which means that a judge rules in favor of one party and against the other based on the facts in the case without going to trial.

Ross said in her order that she believes summary judgment in favor of the state is inappropriate and that she's considering entering summary judgment in favor of Palast and Butler. She gave the state 30 days to respond, and said Palast and Butler will have 14 days from the state's filing to respond.

Current Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office did not respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The Crosscheck program compares registration lists and uses voters' first and last names and dates of birth to determine whether someone is registered in more than one state. Critics allege that it produces a high number of false matches.

The Kansas secretary of state's office said last month that the future of the program is uncertain after its champion, former secretary of state Kris Kobach lost his bid to become governor and is no longer an elected official.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Warren campaign memo details rivals' weaknesses
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is arguing that her top rivals have flaws that will be exposed over time in the Democratic presidential primary and that their White House bids aren’t built for the long haul like hers is
4:01PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Review: On the rebound, Madeira finds the power in healing
Singer-songwriter-pianist Phil Madeira has released his third album in two years
3:54PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Sanders, Buttigieg look for good results in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders is fighting for Democratic front-runner status as New Hampshire primary voters stream to the polls
3:53PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hamels eager to fill leadership void on young Braves staff
Cole Hamels is eager to fill a leadership void on a young Atlanta Braves pitching staff
2:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
Rains flood roads, swell rivers across the Deep South
Heavy rains are causing flooding problems in the Southeast, and more storms are on the way
1:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Roads flooded, rivers rising across the Deep South
Roads are flooding and rivers are rising across the Deep South after a day of heavy rains
1:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
The Latest: Warren campaign memo details rivals' weaknesses
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is arguing that her top rivals have flaws that will be exposed over time in the Democratic presidential primary and that their White House bids aren’t built for the long haul like hers is
4:01PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Review: On the rebound, Madeira finds the power in healing
Singer-songwriter-pianist Phil Madeira has released his third album in two years
3:54PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Sanders, Buttigieg look for good results in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders is fighting for Democratic front-runner status as New Hampshire primary voters stream to the polls
3:53PM ( 33 minutes ago )
US regulators probing 5 tech companies' acquisitions to 2010
Federal regulators are ramping up their investigation of the market dominance of giant tech companies
3:52PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Hill collapses, roads flooded, dam eroded by Southern rains
Heavy rains have collapsed a hillside, flooded roads and endangered dams across the Southeast, and forecasters say more water is on the way
3:48PM ( 37 minutes ago )