Black Voters Matter v. Raffensperger

Location: Georgia
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: April 13, 2020

What's at Stake

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Georgia filed a federal lawsuit April 8, 2020, on behalf of Black Voters Matter challenging the constitutionality of requiring voters to buy postage stamps when submitting mail-in absentee ballots and mailing in absentee ballot applications. This is tantamount to a poll tax.

The legal claim is straightforward. The Constitution bans poll taxes. Postage costs money. Election officials require Georgia voters to pay postage when submitting mail-in absentee ballots, amounting to a poll tax. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has made it unrealistic for most, if not all, voters to cast ballots in-person, the state is essentially forcing voters to pay in order to participate in our democracy.

The ACLU is seeking a preliminary injunction to require election officials to provide prepaid returnable envelopes for absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications. Election officials already know how to do this, because the law requires them to provide postage prepaid returnable envelopes for other purposes.

Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said: “No one should have to choose between protecting their health and their right to vote. Voting by mail will be the safest option for many voters. In failing to provide prepaid postage for absentee ballots, Georgia is creating an unconstitutional obstacle to voting. We won't allow for a modern-day poll tax.”

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