Georgia v. Holder

Date Filed: 7/29/2010

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) represents African-American voters and organizations dedicated to the registration of African-American and other minority voters in Georgia v. Holder, a lawsuit filed by the State of Georgia. Georgia is a jurisdiction covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and must obtain preclearance, or pre-approval, of voting changes before they become law. 

The lawsuit, filed by the State of Georgia, asks the court to preclear, or pre-approve, a law that would drastically alter the voter registration process in the state. Under the proposed law, qualified voters would be ineligible to register if the information they provide on their voter registration applications does not exactly match information maintained by the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. Eligible voters who are not perfectly matched must successfully navigate a series of steps before they can cast a regular ballot on Election Day.  If they cannot complete the process before Election Day, but still turn out to vote, they must appear at a hearing to make sure the ballot they cast on Election Day counts. If the court will not allow Georgia to implement this voting change, the state asks the court to invalidate the federal preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, known as Section 5.    

Widely regarded as the heart of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5 serves as our democracy’s discrimination checkpoint by requiring jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting, like Georgia, to submit proposed voting changes for federal pre-approval.  The pre-approval process ensures that voting changes are free from discrimination. This protection effectively deters and blocks voting discrimination.

Since Georgia seeks to implement a voting change that would harm minority voters, LDF opposes pre-approval of the proposed changes to the voter registration process. LDF has intervened on behalf of organizations committed to the registration of African-American and other minority voters in Georgia, as well as registered voters whose voting rights are directly impacted by this registration change and constitutional challenge.

This lawsuit challenging Section 5 was filed by Georgia less than one year after LDF successfully defended its constitutionality in the Supreme Court Case Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder, and only one month after LDF intervened on behalf of African American voters in Shelby County, Alabama to defend Section 5 in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  LDF intervened in this case to defend the Voting Rights Act once again.