State Watch

Judge rules postage requirement for mail ballots isn’t a poll tax

A federal judge has rejected an argument from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claiming that Georgia’s postage requirement for mail-in ballots amounts to a poll tax.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s decision ended a months-long case that had previously resulted in Totenberg also declining to order the state to provide postage-paid envelopes to voters in the state.

“The fact that any registered voter may vote in Georgia on election day without purchasing a stamp, and without undertaking any ‘extra steps’ besides showing up at the voting precinct and complying with generally applicable election regulations, necessitates a conclusion that stamps are not poll taxes,” wrote the judge, according to the AP.

The national civil rights organization has worked to expand mail in voting nationwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that voters should not have to risk illness in order to exercise their right to vote.

“We believe that voting should be easy and accessible for every eligible voter,” said Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia’s executive director, in a statement to The Hill. “President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act 55 years ago this month. He said of the vote, ‘Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no duty that weighs more heavily on us than the duty to ensure that right.’ We will continue to answer that call and be advocates for the most marginalized members of our community.”

ACLU attorneys sued Mississippi earlier Tuesday over that state’s voting laws as well due to a requirement that voters list a valid reason such as a “temporary or permanent physical disability” when applying for an absentee ballot.

“Mississippians should not have to risk exposure to a deadly virus in order to vote. The court can ensure that voters do not have to choose between their health and their vote,” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Republicans including President Trump have resisted calls to expand mail-in voting despite the ongoing pandemic, citing unproven claims of rampant abuse and fraud in mail-in voting systems.

Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 8/12

Tags Absentee ballot ACLU American Civil Liberties Union Donald Trump Georgia mail-in ballots Voter suppression in the United States

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