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Judge orders Georgia to allow new U.S. citizens to vote

Vote buttons in rows.
Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge ordered that Georgia must allow new U.S. citizens to vote if they show proof of citizenship at polling locations, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Why it matters: More than 3,000 U.S. citizens who have been newly naturalized have been turned away from early voting locations in the state when their citizenship status hadn’t been updated in government computers.

The details: Citizenship status is not updated on Georgians’ state driver’s license records until they renew their licenses, per the AJC.

  • Georgia operates under an "exact match" law that flags such issues.

Between the lines: Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor in the state, had argued there was already a process in place to allow new citizens to vote; poll workers are supposed to issue provisional ballots to people whose citizenship may not be verified with their licenses.

What they're saying: "Clearly, mistakes are made…Nobody here is trying to suggest we should make it harder for new U.S. citizens to vote — quite the opposite," Cris Correia, a senior assistant attorney general who represented Kemp, said of the case.

The bottom line: The state has an interest in ensuring only U.S. citizens are voting, and the latest ruling allows that to happen while taking the burden off of individuals whose voter registrations have been flagged, the judge, U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross, wrote.

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