Atlanta – Late yesterday, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office was notified by the state Attorney General’s office that the United States Department of Justice had filed a federal lawsuit against the State and our Department for alleged violations of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) as it relates to run-off voting.
Specifically, the DOJ is alleging that the State of Georgia and the Secretary of State's Office would be in violation of UOCAVA if there is a runoff in either the Primary or General Election this year.
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction while Georgia is literally in the middle of the 2012 Primary. Currently, ballots have been printed and absentee voters (military and overseas included) are voting. The DOJ attempted to twist the State's arm into agreeing to a consent decree, the terms of which would place unnecessary stresses on the elections administration process, before even filing the lawsuit.
The DOJ approved Georgia’s timing for run-off elections in 2005 after the General Assembly altered prior election laws.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was entered into between the State of Georgia and the DOJ in 2005. The terms of that MOU with respect to ballot delivery for runoff elections track the General Assembly's 2005 amendments to the Election Code. In addition to remaining in compliance with UOCAVA, the Secretary of State's Office has continuously taken additional steps to ensure our overseas and military citizens have the opportunity to vote in every election.
“I am incredibly disappointed in the action that the Department of Justice took yesterday,” said Kemp. “As I said last week, I do not view this as an earnest effort on behalf of military and overseas voters, but rather a politically motivated stunt during an election year. The timing and lack of communication simply does not allow for any other explanation.”
“Our Office is committed to safe and secure elections that every Georgia citizen, at home or abroad, has the opportunity to participate in. We will vigorously defend our system during this legal process.”
“If there is any silver lining to this situation, it is the opportunity that our Department has to raise awareness of our Electronic Ballot Delivery system (EBD) that was used by over 1,900 overseas and military voters in 2010 and was one of the first systems of its kind in the nation.”
Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives.