A local Morgan County Citizen, Jeanne Dufort, is one of five voters who filed a lawsuit this week against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Georgia’s State Election Board members and members of the Gwinnett County Board of Elections alleging voter disenfranchisement. Kemp is also currently running for Governor in the upcoming Midterm Election on November 6.
According to the Coalition for Good Governance, five Georgia voters filed the lawsuit Tuesday, Oct. 16 “to halt the excessive rejection of mail ballots because of voters’ innocent errors and discrepancies on mail ballot paperwork. Some counties have unacceptably high rejections of mail ballot applications and mail ballots because of small technicalities such as a voter signing the ballot envelope on the wrong line or writing the current date rather than the date of birth.”
Dufort, who is part of the Morgan County Democrats and has been advocating locally for the use of paper ballots over the current electronic voting system, joined the lawsuit to challenge controversial handling of mail-in ballot that are being discarded over minor issues.
“My interest in Paper Ballots lead me to research how those are handled at the county level, and I was stunned to find out that some counties were routinely rejecting large numbers of applications and ballots, while other counties were not. Gwinnet leads the state in rejecting both, but other counties also have high rejection rates,” said Dufort. “I was raised to believe in fairness, and it baffles me how all Georgia elections are supposed to be governed by the same rules, yet it’s clear that all voters are not treated the same. That’s why I joined this suit as a Plaintiff – to make sure that it’s as easy for all Georgia voters to cast a vote, and be sure their vote is counted as they cast it, as it is for me here in Morgan County.”
According to the Coalition of Good Governance, a non-profit advocacy group for fair elections, is challenging various Georgia voting laws in the newly filed lawsuit.
“Thousands of voters have been rejected by these unfair and unconstitutional practices in recent elections. We are asking the Court to intervene to stop these unjust actions in advance of the November election. Certain Georgia laws and policies prevent the counting of valid ballots cast by eligible voters merely trying to exercise their right to vote,” said Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of Coalition for Good Governance. Marks noted that Coalition for Good Governance is underwriting and supporting the lawsuit in support of its mission of advocacy for fair and transparent elections.
According to Marks, The lawsuit seeks the following key remedies:
“Voters must be notified in one business day by first class mail, and telephone and email if available, that their ballot application or voted ballot has been rejected, with instructions given on how to provide the needed information. No voter signatures can be rejected without agreement of a bi-partisan signature review team. Ballots and applications already rejected must be reviewed immediately and voters be provided the above-mentioned protections. Voters whose ballots have been rejected must be given until the Friday after Election Day to resolve any issues any mail ballot eligibility questions,” said Marks.
“The plaintiffs brought this suit because the Georgia election officials, under the direction of Secretary Kemp, are rejecting perfectly valid ballots from eligible voters for arbitrary and capricious reasons and not giving the voters a reasonable opportunity to fix the perceived mistakes,” said
Bruce P. Brown, an Atlanta lawyer who represents the Plaintiffs. “These election officials should want and encourage people to vote, and help them cast a vote, but instead some are using everything at their disposal to deny these people – many of them elderly and disabled – this fundamental political right. We hope that Secretary Kemp, rather than fight this lawsuit, simply does the right thing and orders election officials statewide to give mail ballot voters a reasonable opportunity to cure any perceived mistakes in their paperwork.”
Rhonda Martin, an Atlanta resident and plaintiff, issued a statement about the lawsuit. “The inability of some citizens to go to the polls or their attempts to protect their votes by using paper ballots should not put them at increased risk of losing their right to vote due to honest, easily corrected errors,” said Martin
Dufort hopes to use her voice to protect the voting rights of all Georgians
“The right to vote is sacred, and until all eligible citizens are allowed to cast their vote as easily as some may cast them, our results are flawed. The disparate treatment of voters in Georgia must cease now,” said Dufort.
In addition to Martin and Dufort, the other plaintiffs are Smythe DuVal, Libertarian Candidate for Secretary of State; Jasmine Clark, Gwinnett County voter and candidate for Georgia House District 108; and Gwinnett County voter Dana Bowers.
Coalition for Good Governance is a non-profit non-partisan organization advocating for secure, transparent and fair elections. The organization is also suing Secretary Kemp, the State Board of Elections, and Fulton County election officials in U.S. District Court in Atlanta (Curling v Kemp 17 cv 2989) to stop the use of Georgia’s unverifiable electronic voting system.