Federal lawsuit filed against Georgia voter photo ID law

[JURIST] Several rights groups and two African-American registered Georgia voters have filed a lawsuit [PDF complaint; ACLU press release] challenging a Georgia law [PDF text; ACLU fact sheet, DOC] that requires voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. The plaintiffs - including Common Cause/Georgia, the League of Women Voters of Georgia, the NAACP, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus - are seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it "imposes an unauthorized, unnecessary and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote" in violation of the Georgia and US constitutions and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to plaintiffs' lawyers, the law discriminates against minorities, the elderly, poor and disabled and the $20 fee to obtain state identification is an unconstitutional poll tax. The US Department of Justice in August approved the Georgia law [JURIST report], as is required under the 1965 Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder] for all changes in voting requirements in states with a history of suppressing minority votes. Though DOJ approval is meant to ensure that the changes do not have a discriminatory purpose or effect, it does not prevent a subsequent court challenge. Three other states also require voters to show photo identification, but Georgia is the only state to require that the ID be government-issued. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.

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