Perdue: AG should sue over voting checks

ATLANTA -- Georgia's attorney general is once again in the middle of a political dustup over whether to sue the federal government.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has directed Thurbert Baker to sue the Obama administration to implement citizenship checks for newly registering voters.

A spokesman for Baker said Thursday the Democrat hasn't decided whether to pursue the suit.

Last month, Baker refused the Republican governor's request to challenge a new federal health care law. He said the state lacked a viable legal claim. Perdue fired back that he will bypass the attorney general and hire an outside counsel to pursue a challenge on behalf of the state.

Baker's refusal to file a health care lawsuit prompted 31 Republican legislators to sign onto a bill that would impeach him.

The latest legal feud comes over the state's method of using federal identification numbers and driver's license data to confirm whether prospective voters are U.S. citizens.

Implemented in 2007, the state's voter verification system had checked new voters against information in databases held by the Georgia Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration.

After a challenge was filed by voting rights groups in the weeks leading up to the 2008 elections, a federal three-judge panel said the state must seek Justice Department preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division rejected the checks in May and October of last year.

''This flawed system frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote,'' Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil rights division, wrote in a May letter.

Georgia's new Secretary of State Brian Kemp said rather than going back to the Justice Department again, he wants to sue in federal court to implement the citizenship checks as well as a separate law requiring newly registering voters to provide proof of citizenship.