2005-09-07 / News

HB 244 approved Burke voters need photo ID to vote in Sept. 20 election

By Lisa J. Chance True Citizen Staff Writer

Burke County voters will be required to present a government issued photo identification card when they arrive at the polls to vote in the Sept. 20 special election.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division approved House Bill 244 Friday, Aug. 26, making the new voter identification requirements effective immediately. The Justice Department reviewed the law to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minority access to the polls.

“The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division found that the new identification requirement had no negative purpose or effect, nor is there any evidence, for that matter, that the voter ID requirements have a negative effect on the turnout of any voters,” said Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Justice Department.

Previously, voters could show one of 17 forms of identification, including bank statements and utility bills, to receive a ballot. Among the bill’s 69 changes is the requirement that voters present a Georgia driver’s license, U.S. passport, government identification card with photo, government issued employee identification card with photo, military identification card with photo or tribal identification card with photo (see above box for additional voting changes).

Other states, such as Florida, Louisiana and South Dakota, also require voters to show photo IDs, but are less restrictive, allowing voters to present photo IDs that are not issued by the government, such as work badges.

In response to the new law, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) is making an effort to provide Georgia identification cards for voting purposes in an efficient and convenient matter with the mobile licensing Georgia Licensing On Wheels (GLOW) bus.

The bus began its statewide travel yesterday (Tuesday, Sept. 6) in Augusta and is scheduled to stop in Burke County Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Burke County Office Park in Waynesboro (see box, right, for details).

The DDS is currently scheduling appointments for churches, clubs and civic organizations whose members need assistance obtaining photo identification. Organizations may call the contact center at (678) 413-8649 to schedule group reservations.

Appointments cannot be made for individuals, but ID cards are issued Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.5 p.m. at the 54 driver’s license centers throughout the state.

Voters who have not been able to obtain the required government issued ID card by Sept. 20 will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot and will have two days to provide the required identification to the registrar to verify the provisional ballot. If you have any questions regarding the new changes, contact the Burke County Board of Elections and Registration at (706) 554-7457.

Voting Changes with House Bill 244

· Challenges to a person who votes by absentee ballot or on a DRE must occur prior to such person’s vote being cast;

· All elections will be determined by majority vote;

· An elector who requests an absentee ballot by mail is no longer required to provide a reason;

· Strikes the requirement that no campaign literature may be physically attached to an absentee ballot application;

· No absentee ballot shall be issued on the day prior to a primary or election;

· First-time registrants by mail in the state of Georgia, who did not supply proper ID with their registration, must include acceptable ID with their absentee ballot application or absentee ballot. If an ID is not provided the absentee ballot shall be deemed a provisional ballot;

· Strikes the requirement that an absentee voter shall have his/her ballot removed if the voter should die before Election Day; and

· A registered voter who is indigent and does not have a driver’s license may receive an ID card without cost.

GLOW Bus

When: Thursday, Sept. 8 – 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Burke County Office Park, 715 W. Sixth St., Waynesboro

Cost:

· Georgia ID card $20 for a five-year or $35 for a

ten-year card · Those that are indigent may request a free card

Requirements:

· Each applicant must verify personal identity, Georgia residency and citizenship (an original birth certificate plus rental agreement or bank statement is

sufficient in most cases) · For a complete list of acceptable documents visit

www.dds.ga.gov

The bus has the capability to issue 200 identification

cards each day.

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