Georgia county tosses out hundreds of minority absentee ballots


One suburban Georgia county has become a flashpoint for concerns over voter suppression for rejecting hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots weeks before Election Day.Gwinnett County, located northeast of Atlanta, now faces two federal lawsuits and accusations from voting rights activists who say the rejections disproportionately affect minority voters, particularly Asian Americans and African Americans.

The county has rejected 595 absentee ballots, which account for more than a third of the total absentee-ballot rejections in the state, even though Gwinnett County accounts for only about 6% of absentee ballots submitted in Georgia, according to state data analyzed by CNN Friday. More than 300 of the rejected ballots belonged to African Americans and Asian Americans.

Officials tossed out the ballots due to missing birthdates, address discrepancies, signatures that do not match those on registration records and other issues, according to the data.

Kristen Clarke, the president of the Washington DC-based advocacy group Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the racial disparities in the county's rejections set off red flags for her organization. Clarke's organization and the Campaign Legal Center filed a separate lawsuit earlier this month that challenges the constitutionality of Georgia's "exact match" law, which stipulates that voters' registration applications must match information on their state ID's or Social Security records. A recent Associated Press report found about 53,000 people, the majority of whom are African-Americans, had their registrations placed in limbo because of some type of mismatch with that information.

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