Thursday, October 27, 2005

via bashman.
U.S. court backs order suspending voter ID in Ga.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/27/05

The federal appeals court in Atlanta today denied a request to set aside an injunction barring enforcement of the state's new voter ID requirement in the upcoming municipal elections held statewide.

In a brief order, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion by the state Attorney General's Office to throw out a order last week by U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy in Rome that suspended enforcement of the law. The decision was made by 11th Circuit Judges Stanley Birch, Joel Dubina and Frank Hull.

"We are gratified that the court's order sustains the protection of the right of all registered voters in Georgia to vote this November, whether or not they can pay for a photo ID," said Neil Bradley of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "We're confident that as the case proceeds in the District Court a final injunction will be issued."

In a flurry of motions last week, state attorneys accused Murphy of wrongly substituting his judgment for that of the state Legislature, and of creating "a constitutional right to vote in person."

Murphy's temporary injunction blocks enforcement of the law, which requires voters to produce their drivers' licenses — or other government-issued photo ID — when requesting a ballot. The judge said the law amounted to an unconstitutional "poll tax." Those without drivers' licenses would have been charged a fee to obtain a state identification card. Murphy also said that the absence of an adequate system for providing the identification cards put an undue burden on the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

State attorneys, who wanted the law back in place for the Nov. 8 municipal elections, said voters who didn't have the proper ID to vote in person could easily qualify for absentee ballots. The AG's Office had asked the 11th Circuit to rule quickly because early voting begins on Oct. 31.

Separately, the 11th Circuit granted the state's motion to expedite consideration of an appeal of Murphy’s injunction. The court's two-page order set a schedule for the both sides to file legal briefs, with the final one due Jan. 23. Once those are filed, the case will be scheduled for oral arguments on the next available argument calendar, the order said.

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