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Showing posts from October, 2018

Courts Tell Georgia: Stop Charging People to Read the Law

In a victory for the people of Georgia, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the state can no longer charge individuals hundreds of dollars to see the laws that govern them. To get there, the court relied on a central tenet of American democracy: The government works on behalf of the public. Quoting the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit wrote, “The concept of popular sovereignty is deeply rooted in our politics, our law, and our history. The seminal statement of America’s political creed boldly proclaims that ‘[g]overnments ... deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.’” For decades, Georgia ignored this reality. Rather than make the text of the law freely available, the state pay-walled access to the statutes, court opinions, and annotations that make up its official law. In 2013, a nonprofit called Public.Resource.Org paid for a copy of the state’s official code and posted it online for free. The state respond…

Response to President Trump Sending Troops to Border

New York City—In response to today’s announcement that President Trump plans to send eight hundred or more troops to the southern border as a caravan of refugees and migrants approaches, Human Rights First’s President and CEO Mike Breen released the following statement:  The approach of a caravan of migrants that includes refugees fleeing persecution and violence is not a crisis. But President Trump is yet again spreading hatred and fear, hoping to score political points by making Americans fear refugees. The president’s decision to deploy the military when civilian border enforcement personnel are able to do the job is a cynical tactic designed to fabricate a sense of emergency as elections approach. The president should not be using the military to further a partisan agenda.   The United States is more than capable of carefully processing a few hundred men, women, and children, and determining who among them have asylum claims that should allow them to live in safety and freedom in…

Judge Temporarily Blocks Georgia Election Officials from Throwing Out Ballots

ATLANTA — A judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking election officials in Georgia from throwing out absentee ballots or applications for a supposed signature mismatch without giving the voter an opportunity to contest the determination and confirm their identity.
The ruling stems from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and county registrars. At issue is a state law that allows election officials — who have no handwriting-analysis expertise — to reject an absentee ballot if they think there is a signature mismatch in the voter’s paperwork, without giving prior notice to the voter or an opportunity to contest that determination.

Sophia Lakin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, had this reaction to today’s ruling:

“This ruling protects the people of Georgia from those who seek to undermine their right to vote. It’s a huge victory, especially with the midterms just days away.” The ruling is at: https://www.aclu.o…

ACLU Fights for Voter Rights in Georgia

ATLANTA — The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit today against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and all county registrars demanding they provide due process for Georgia voters whose absentee ballots or applications are being rejected due to an alleged mismatch of signatures.

The case was filed on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project. At issue is a state law that allows election officials — who have no handwriting-analysis expertise — to reject an absentee ballot if they think there is a signature mismatch in the voter’s paperwork, without giving prior notice to the voter or an opportunity to contest that determination.

The ACLU is seeking a temporary restraining order requiring election officials to provide absentee voters the opportunity to confirm their identity or otherwise resolve the alleged discrepancy.

The lawsuit notes that a voter’s signature could vary for a “variety of reasons, both intentional and unintentional. Unintentional factors includ…