Federal judge dismisses challenge to Georgia's citizenship verification process

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a challenge to a Georgia policy requiring new citizens to provide ID in order to vote. 

The New Georgia Project is one of seven groups in a coalition that have been fighting the state's voter verification process in court since 2018. They say they're worried about how this could impact those who have just become U.S. Citizens.

Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director for the New Georgia Project, says her family knows firsthand how difficult it can be to get registered to vote before becoming a new citizen of the U.S.

"As the wife of a naturalized citizen who did just this, he registered to vote on the day he got his citizenship, had to prove citizenship for his registration. I was disappointed," Ali told FOX 5. "I know that he got flagged the first time he applied, even with that proof."

But the judge ruled that the plaintiffs failed to prove the voting rights of naturalized citizens are violated by having to show papers or get a new state ID before voting.

Secretary of State Brad Reffensperger agreed in a statement sent to FOX 5 saying, "Georgia’s citizenship verification process is common sense and it works. With this ruling, we are able to continue ensuring that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections."

Ali argues the process creates an extra hurdle.

"New Americans, new Georgians are getting an added barrier that other Georgians are not getting," she said.

She also argues the federal government does not automatically update the state or county's election systems with citizenship changes. Ali says there have been examples of new citizens missing an election in Georgia because they did not know they needed to update their status with the state in order to vote.

"People come out of that ceremony, and they are so excited about getting the right to vote. They're like, 'I'm a citizen, I'm a vote. I'm excited.' And to think of these folks who, by some administrative error, by some box not checked, by some paper, not sent to the right clerk, may not get to live that little piece of the American dream," Ali said.

FOX 5 requested an interview with Raffensperger to discuss the issue, but his team stated he was not available prior to our on-air report. 

His statement goes on to say, "ensuring that only U.S. citizens vote in our elections is critically important to secure and accurate elections."

As for whether the New Georgia Project will continue to challenge the ruling, Ali stated they were not ready to comment on that. But she did say they will continue to help register new naturalized citizens to vote.