Today, a coalition of organizations — the Georgia Alliance for Retired Americans, Priorities USA and Vote.org — filed suit against the Georgia State Election Board asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to invalidate Georgia’s “Wet Signature” rule which requires a voter to use a pen to sign an absentee ballot application. The lawsuit is funded by Priorities USA.
The rule put an end to the state’s popular online absentee ballot application and blocks Georgians from using the secure digital signatures they use daily to conduct other civic and personal business.
Georgia’s “Wet Signature” requirement is in direct conflict with Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits election officials from denying an individual their right to vote because of minor errors in an application. The “Wet Signature” rule is contrary to Georgia’s acceptance of applications digitally transmitted by fax or email.
The “Wet Signature” rule was implemented by the Georgia Legislature after historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election and 2021 runoff elections. The rule unfairly limits ballot access for those who do not have the resources, like printers, to complete applications under the new restrictions. The rule serves only to generate minor errors that can then be used to reject absentee ballot applications.
“The requirement of a ‘wet’ signature on an absentee ballot application simply creates a pretext to unfairly disqualify voters, particularly Black and brown voters, from their constitutional right to vote. This rule is yet another attempt by the Georgia Legislature to suppress voting rights,” said Guy Cecil, Chairman of Priorities USA. “Onerous requirements like this have historically been used to dilute the political power of marginalized communities. Priorities USA has been fighting voter suppression in the courts since 2015 and we will continue to work against these discriminatory policies.”
“Requiring that mail ballot applications be signed with a pen is simply a ruse to disqualify Georgia voters,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Our Georgia members take the right to vote seriously and are the most likely to vote absentee. This bizarre rule will certainly result in many Georgia seniors from being able to vote at all. Elected officials should make it easier for people to cast a ballot, not create unconstitutional schemes to suppress the vote.”
“The ability to complete and sign applications electronically significantly expands registration opportunities for many voters of color who might have limited access to printers or mailing facilities, or those who otherwise need assistance to register,” said Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey. “Georgia’s Wet Signature Rule imposes unnecessary roadblocks that are not only hopelessly out of step with other provisions of Georgia law, but also creates undue burdens for voters and the organizations that help them register, all while failing to advance any sufficient state interest that could justify such restrictions.”