Georgia voter stickers lay on a table at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 18, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. There are multiple lawsuits concerning voter suppression in the state.
Jessica McGowan—Getty Images
By Erin Corbett
October 21, 2018

Election officials in Georgia are facing multiple lawsuits over the high rejection rate of mail-in absentee ballots in one suburban county.

As next month’s midterm election quickly approaches, Gwinnett County officials are facing a lawsuit brought forward by the Coalition for Good Governance on behalf of a group of voters, according to Talking Points Memo. The defendants include the Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections, as well as the state board of elections and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the GOP gubernatorial candidate.

Kemp was sued earlier this month by a coalition of civil rights group for his “exact match” law, which they argue violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments, CNN reported.

Another lawsuit brought forward against Gwinnett County election officials, including Kemp, has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two advocacy groups, CNN reported. Voting rights activists say the rejected absentee ballots disproportionately target Asian Americans and black people in the county.

“Gwinnett County is better than this,” a state representative told Fox 5 News. “Gwinnett County represents nine percent of the state of Georgia, but 37 percent of the absentee ballots that were rejected were here in Gwinnett County.” The county has rejected 595 absentee ballots, with more than 300 of them belonging to Asian American and black voters.

Officials allegedly tossed out the ballots due to missing birthdates, issues with addresses, and signatures that didn’t match on the registration records, among other problems, CNN reported.

One resident, Lilieth Walters, told CNN her ballot was thrown out because of her signature. “What was the issue with my signature?” she said. “Maybe I didn’t sign the same way I normally do, but … a signature shouldn’t prevent one from voting.”

The lawsuit brought forward by the Coalition for Good Governance demands that the county must notify voters within a day of their rejected ballot and give them enough time to fix any discrepancies.

“Today, our office opened an investigation on behalf of the State Election Board to ensure that counties are following the law in making these determinations,” Candice Brice, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, said in a statement reported by Talking Points Memo on Tuesday. “We will not be bullied by out-of-state organizations or political operatives who want to generate headlines and advance a baseless narrative. We will do our part to keep elections secure, accessible, and fair in Georgia.”

As for Gwinnett County, spokesperson Joe Sorenson said the county is “committed to a process that protects the voting rights of all of its citizens.”

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