April 7, 2020
ATLANTA, GA – Today, New Georgia Project and Advancement Project National Office filed a letter with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, demanding immediate changes to the state’s upcoming primary election procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter requests accommodations for voters statewide and demands action to protect the voting rights of those directly and indirectly impacted by Georgia’s first public health state of emergency.
“Georgians should not have to risk their lives to vote,” said Nse Ufot, executive director of New Georgia Project. “Common sense measures can be implemented to protect the public’s health and our democracy. We call on state officials to immediately expand access to early and absentee voting, and provide options that allow voters to vote in the way that works best for them and their health.”
The joint letter recommends the Governor and the Secretary of State immediately:
- Mail absentee ballots to all registered voters, not just active voters, for the primary and general election
- Streamline the absentee ballot application and return process
- Expand Georgia’s early voting period, hours and locations
- Create vote centers that permit voters to cast a ballot at any polling place on Election Day
“State officials have an obligation to make voting accessible, safe, and healthy for all Georgians impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project National Office. “With Governor Kemp declaring a public health state of emergency, and the serious hazard posed by COVID-19, it is critical that emergency accommodations are implemented to ensure no voter is disenfranchised due to the public health crisis.”
The groups also cited stay-at-home orders in effect throughout Georiga, the protracted absentee ballot request process, and likely poll closures as major barriers to voting. To ensure all voters are able to cast a ballot, the groups also demand the state;
- Eliminate error-prone exact match signature requirements to verify the identity of voters casting an absentee ballot. Allow voters to use the last four digits of their Social Security number.
- Allow community organizations to collect and deliver marked and sealed ballots;
- Allow voters to submit their absentee ballots at a variety of drop boxes; and
- Count all ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.
“Every Georgian is entitled to have their voice heard at the ballot box this year,” continued Nse Ufot. “Our elected officials have an obligation to ensure our upcoming election is accessible, safe, and healthy for all Georgia voters.”
New Georgia Project Project is a non-partisan effort to register and civically engage the rising electorate in our state. The New Georgia Project is working to change that inequality
Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org