A woman casts her ballot during early voting, Oct., 26, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga.
David Goldman/AP

Civil rights groups sue over Ga. voter backlog

Georgia may be considered a reliably “red” state in the Deep South, but this year, it’s home to two closely watched, highly competitive statewide races. In fact, recent polling suggests Georgia’ U.S. Senate race and gubernatorial race may even go to a runoff.
 
It makes lawsuits like these all the more important. Sarah Wheaton reported late Friday:
A coalition of civil rights organizations on Friday sued the Georgia secretary of state’s office and five counties over an alleged backlog of 40,000 voter registration forms. […]
 
Filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the suit asks a judge to order the counties and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to immediately process the remaining forms.
If you saw Rachel’s segment on this on Thursday, you probably have a sense of why this is such a big deal, but let’s recap for those just joining us.
 
Voter-suppression efforts have been a scourge in recent years for much of the country, but it’s proving to be especially problematic in Georgia. Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), Georgia’s top elections official, was recorded over the summer expressing concern, for example, about Democrats “registering all these minority voters that are out there.” Kemp also subpoenaed the New Georgia Project, which happens to be the driving force behind the state’s largest voter-registration campaign, for reasons that appear quite dubious.
 
But it’s the voter-registration materials that may ultimately matter most. According to the New Georgia Project, the group has submitted “more than 80,000 new voter applications to county election boards.” But as Election Day nears, the New Georgia Project says roughly half of these new voters, some of whom registered months ago, are not yet on the voter rolls.
 
And if these Georgians aren’t on the voter rolls, they may not be able to cast a ballot that counts. With early voting beginning statewide today, it’s a problem in need of an immediate resolution.
 
In a statement, state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D), founder of the New Georgia Project’s parent group, said, “We hoped litigation would not be necessary, but with early voting beginning next week, eligible Georgians are dangerously close to not being allowed to vote in this election. All eligible registrants should be processed immediately; provisional voting is not an acceptable option.”
 
Rachel talked to Abrams about this on Thursday, and if you missed the segment, it’s worth your time.
 
The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/9/14, 10:40 PM ET

40,000 voter registration forms gone missing in Georgia

Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, talks with Rachel Maddow about Republican challenges to a voting registration drive by the New Georgia Project, and over 40,000 new voter registration applications that have not been processed.

Georgia and War On Voting

Civil rights groups sue over Ga. voter backlog