A Fox Nation headline falsely claimed that Attorney General Eric Holder "[s]ays" it is "[r]acist" to allow only citizens to vote in Georgia. In fact, the AP article Fox Nation linked to made clear that the Justice Department opposes Georgia's voter verification program because it illegally denies some citizens, and disproportionately minorities, the right to vote.
In a June 2 headline, The Fox Nation falsely claimed that Attorney General Eric Holder "[s]ays" it is "[r]acist" to allow only citizens to vote in Georgia. Fox Nation's headline stated: "Georgia Only Wants Citizens Voting ... Holder Says That's Racist." In fact, the June 1 Associated Press article Fox Nation linked to makes clear that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not opposed restricting voting to citizens; rather, the AP reported that the DOJ said in a letter that it had rejected Georgia's process after finding that it illegally denies some citizens, and disproportionately minorities, the right to vote.
Loretta King, the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, wrote in the May 29 letter to Georgia's attorney general that under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a change in Georgia election law can be approved only if it " 'neither has the purpose nor will have the effect' of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group."
King wrote that a DOJ analysis found that Georgia's process "frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote" and that "[t]housands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged" as ineligible under the system. King concluded that the Justice Department's analysis found that the state's verification process "does not produce accurate and reliable information" and that "the impact of these errors falls disproportionally on minority voters" and thus rejected the state's procedures.
The Fox Nation's June 2 headline:
From the June 1 AP article that The Fox Nation linked to:
The Justice Department has rejected Georgia's system of using Social Security numbers and driver's license data to check whether prospective voters are citizens, a process that was a subject of a federal lawsuit in the weeks leading up to November's election.
In a letter released on Monday, the Justice Department said the state's voter verification program is frequently inaccurate and has a "discriminatory effect" on minority voters. The decision means Georgia must halt the citizenship checks, although the state can still ask the Justice Department to reconsider, according to the letter and to the Georgia secretary of state's office.
"This flawed system frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote," Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said. King's letter was sent to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker on Friday.
The decision comes as Georgia awaits word on whether a law passed in the spring that requires newly registering voters to show proof of citizenship will pass muster with DOJ. Under the law that takes effect in January, people must show their proof up front compared to doing checks through databases.
A three-judge federal panel in October ordered the state to seek Justice Department preclearance for the checks under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the same reason the federal agency must sign off on the new law that made Georgia only the second state after Arizona to require such proof. Georgia is one of several states that need federal approval before changing election rules because of a history of discriminatory Jim Crow-era voting practices.
Justice Department officials said the citizenship match through driver's license and Social Security data has flagged 7,007 individuals as non-citizens but that many have been shown to be in error.
"Thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged," the Justice Department letter said.
The Justice Department decision marks the first time the new Democratic Obama administration has weighed in on Georgia's election laws. It is also the first time the Justice Department has rejected a change in election procedures by Georgia since the 1990s, according to a spokesman for the Georgia attorney general.
From King's May 29 letter to Baker: