ACLU seeks reopening of voter registration in six Georgia counties

The state of Georgia is facing a new lawsuit seeking a reopening of voter registration in counties where Hurricane Matthew forced evacuations and government closures.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit Monday in federal court.

“The state’s failure to extend the voter registration deadline, despite the massive disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew, means that thousands of Georgians will be prevented from participating in the November election,” Kathleen Burch, interim counsel for the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “This is unethical and illegal.”

The suit comes after a federal judge last week ordered Chatham County to reopen voter registration there through Tuesday.

The ACLU wants a judge to allow would-be voters to register in Chatham, Bryan, Camden, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties for six days.

“This is a nakedly political stunt to manipulate the system and squander state and county resources days before the election,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s chief elections officer, said in a statement. “In a desperate, last-minute attempt at relevance, the ACLU is spoon-feeding the liberal media exactly what it wants and forcing their agenda on the American people.”

Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said his office was “paying close attention to the situation on the coast with Hurricane Matthew, but changing deadlines so close to the election is a bad idea and makes an orderly election more difficult.”

Kemp, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with Gov. Nathan Deal, urged coastal residents to register to vote ahead of the storm and touted the myriad ways Georgia allows voter registration.

Just last week, the ACLU and other groups successfully sued Florida to secure an extension of the voter registration deadline there. Both Florida and Georgia were hit hard by Hurricane Matthew, with mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders affecting millions.

In Georgia alone, four people died during Matthew and thousands evacuated from the coast.

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