Judge throws out Georgia's photo-voter ID law, says requirement is unconstitutional

Tuesday, September 19th 2006, 3:10 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ A judge Tuesday struck down as unconstitutional the latest version of a new Georgia law requiring voters to show photo ID.

State Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. ruled that the photo ID requirement disenfranchises otherwise qualified voters and adds a new, unconstitutional condition to voting.

``This cannot be,'' Bedford wrote, pointing out that a photo ID is not required to register to vote in Georgia.

The case is expected to go to the Georgia Supreme Court before the Nov. 7 general election.

Russ Willard, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said it would appeal ``as quickly as possible.''

In his ruling, the judge took issue with the burden placed on voters to prove their identify using photo ID. Even if voters are allowed to cast ballots without the required identification, they must return within 48 hours with one of the six necessary photo IDs or their vote is forfeited.

``Any attempt by the Legislature to require more than what is required by the express language of our Constitution cannot withstand judicial scrutiny,'' Bedford wrote.

Supporters of the photo ID law, including Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, have said it is needed to protect against voter fraud.

Opponents argue it disenfranchises poor, elderly and minority voters who are less likely to have a driver's license or other valid government-issued photo ID.

The new law took effect July 1, but its enforcement was blocked by state and federal judges during the state's July primaries and August runoffs.