Georgia election officials are continuing to use inaccurate paper voter registration applications until replacement forms arrive.
These outdated applications incorrectly say proof of residence is required when someone registers to vote. Under federal election law, applicants don’t have to verify their names and addresses until they vote for the first time.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office updated registration applications available online last month, but the state still has a supply of more than 130,000 old paper forms. The erroneous language has appeared on registration applications since 2004.
Local election officials have been trained to accept all voter registration forms, without asking applicants for photo ID or proof of residence, said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Kemp.
“Changing the voter registration form is an extensive process, and before we place an official order for hundreds of thousands of forms, we have to make sure everything is accurate,” Broce said Tuesday. “We have been working diligently on making this change. The counties know that forms are on the way as soon as possible.”
The state will likely order 200,000 updated registration forms, Broce said. They typically cost about $6,600 per 100,000 ordered.
The issue arose in February when the American Civil Liberties of Georgia said voter registration applications were misleading potential voters. Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, agreed to change the forms.
“Voter registration is the gateway to exercising the sacred, constitution right to vote that belongs to every Georgian,” said Sean Young, legal director for the ACLU of Georgia. “County officials are required to follow the law, and the Office of the Secretary of State is responsible for ensuring that they do.”
Nearly 84,000 new voters have already registered since the May 22 primary election, bringing the total number of registered Georgia voters to more than 6.8 million, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Georgians who use their driver’s license numbers of state-issued identification numbers when registering to vote on paper forms don’t need to submit any additional identification.
Corrected paper voter registration applications won’t be available until after the Oct. 9 registration deadline for new voters who want to participate in the Nov. 6 general election. It will take at least 30 days after the state orders new forms for them to be printed and delivered, Broce said.
How Georgia voter registration forms changed
“REQUIREMENT: If you are submitting this form by mail and you are registering for the first time in Georgia, enclose a copy of one of the following with your application: A copy of a current and valid photo ID, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and address.”
“REQUIREMENT: If you are submitting this form by mail and you are registering for the first time in Georgia, you are required to submit proof of residence either with this form OR when you vote for the first time. Proof of residence includes one of the following: a COPY of a current and valid photo ID; or a COPY of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.”