Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp responds to US Department of Justice lawsuit threat


Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp responds to US Department of Justice lawsuit threat

Via email from Kemp’s office:

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez notified the State on June 15th that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had been authorized to file a lawsuit against the State of Georgia and Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleging violations of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballot delivery requirements. Specifically, the DOJ is alleging that the State of Georgia and the Secretary of State’s Office would be in violation of UOCAVA if there is a runoff in either the primary or general election.

Three days after sending notification of the DOJ’s authorization to sue the State of Georgia, the DOJ sent a proposed consent decree for the State to execute with the understanding that the DOJ would file the consent decree simultaneously with the DOJs lawsuit in federal court.

If the DOJ was earnest, they would have previously contacted us about their concerns rather than sending a notice of a lawsuit a month before the Primary Election.  Georgia is literally in the middle of the 2012 Primary. Currently, ballots have been printed and absentee voters (military and overseas included) are voting, while the DOJ is attempting to twist the State’s arm into agreeing to a consent decree, the terms of which would place unnecessary stresses on the elections administration process, before even filing the lawsuit.

The DOJ has not previously expressed concerns about Georgia’s compliance with the MOVE Act, or Georgia’s ability to transmit absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters.  In fact, the DOJ approved Georgia’s timing for run-off elections in 2005 after the General Assembly altered prior election laws.

We are operating under the terms of an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered between the State of Georgia and the DOJ in 2005.  The terms of that MOU with respect to ballot delivery for runoff elections track the General Assembly’s 2005 amendments to the Election Code.   In addition to remaining in compliance with UOCAVA, the Secretary of State’s Office has continuously taken additional steps to ensure our overseas and military citizens have the opportunity to vote in every election.

Our office is committed to safe and secure elections that every Georgia citizen, at home or abroad, has the opportunity to participate in.  For this reason, we will not enter into the proposed consent decree with the DOJ and we look forward to defending Georgia’s system.


Brian P. Kemp

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