Judge orders Georgia to make it easier for new US citizens to vote

September 16, 2016 - Atlanta - 755 new citizens take their oath of allegiance at Turner Field.

A federal judge on Friday ordered that new U.S. citizens must be allowed to vote if they show proof of citizenship at the polls.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross ruled against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who had argued that state law already provides a process for new citizens to vote.

But Ross' order said that process wasn't working because some citizens have been turned away from the polls.

LIVE coverage on the last day of early voting and the final days of campaign events for the gubernatorial candidates, on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m.

The ruling comes just four days before Tuesday’s election for governor between Kemp, a Republican, and Stacey Abrams, a Democrat.


Ross granted an injunction ordering that anyone whose voter registration has been put on hold because of their citizenship status can vote on a regular ballot after showing proof to a poll manager or deputy registrar.

“Allowing poll managers to verify proof of citizenship would alleviate the severe burden on individuals who have been flagged and placed in pending status for citizenship while still serving the state’s interest of ensuring that only United States’ citizens are voting,” Ross wrote.

The ruling could affect more than 3,000 people whose registrations have been placed on hold because their citizenship couldn’t be verified by state driver’s license records. Those records aren’t often updated until Georgians renew their licenses, so those who became citizens after receiving their licenses are being flagged by the state until they show naturalization papers or a U.S. passport.

In all, there are nearly 47,000 pending voter registrations in Georgia because of the state's "exact match" law that flags people until they prove citizenship, names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers.