ACLU Sues Georgia Over Failure to Extend Voter Registration Deadline After Hurricane Matthew

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ATLANTA — The American Civil Liberties Union today sued Georgia for refusing to extend the voter registration deadline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
“The state’s failure to extend the voter registration deadline, despite the massive disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew, means that thousands of Georgians will be prevented from participating in the November election. This is unethical and illegal,” said Kathleen Burch, interim counsel for the ACLU of Georgia.

Just last week, the ACLU and other groups successfully sued Florida to secure an extension of the voter registration deadline there. Both Florida and Georgia were pummeled by Hurricane Matthew, with mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders affecting millions. In Georgia alone, more than 1 million people were under evacuation orders, and government offices were closed and services disrupted due to storm conditions.

“These huge disruptions occurred during the busiest time for voter registration. Gov. Deal’s refusal to extend the deadline is an affront to the democratic process and to voter participation in this critical election,” said Julie Ebenstein, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Racial minorities and younger people tend to register at disproportionately higher rates during the last few days of a voter registration period.

Georgia’s voter registration deadline was October 11. The lawsuit seeks to extend the deadline in the affected counties — Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh — by six days from the court’s order. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. It names Gov. Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp as defendants, and cites violations of the Constitution, Voting Rights Act, and National Voter Registration Act.