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by D.A. King, ©2020


(Oct. 26, 2020) — A little-known fact: By state law, the driver’s license Georgia issues to foreigners is not excluded as “proper identification” when casting a ballot.

As I do each time I vote, when this writer voted in Cobb County last week I asked the very nice staffer who took my driver’s license after asking me for identification if she would have accepted it if it read “limited term” across the top. I had to repeat myself and it was clear she had never heard that description before.

When I made my question clear, she replied that they accept any and all Georgia drivers’ licenses. Yes, even if they have “LIMITED TERM” across the top. Her supervisor confirmed the answer to my question. Yes, official ID Cards, too.

The Georgia Department of Driver’s Services (DDS) issues non-citizens drivers’ licenses and ID Cards that vary from the ones issued to U.S. citizens only in wording across the top reading “LIMITED TERM.” It should be noted that in addition to legitimate guest workers and foreign students this includes a variety of illegal aliens who have been issued a work-permit. It should also be noted that non-citizens – of any immigration status – are not supposed to vote in Georgia.

Why doesn’t state law make it clear that the default driving and ID credentials only given to non-citizens cannot legally be used or accepted at the polls? The weak and hushed answer to that question is usually that only U.S. citizens, not non-citizens, can legally register to vote so we shouldn’t concern ourselves with details on voter’s ID offered at the ballot box.

Considering the “Motor Voter” automatic registration system now in place in Georgia it seems fair to ask for a belt and suspenders on this one.

The left-tilted Georgia Public Broadcasting explained the “motor voter” law in February with, “which means when you go to the DMV, the Department of Driver Services, and do any sort of anything, your voter registration is updated.”

“Georgia led the country in the next number of those motor voter interactions with well over 3.5 million. The number of people registered in Georgia increased by nearly a million voters from 2014 to 2018 according to the GPB report.

What could go wrong? We point to a 2019 Pew report on California Motor Voter as just one example: “But DMV officials later found more than 100,000 registration errors in the first year, including some voters registered to the wrong party. And at least one noncitizen (state officials still are investigating how many in total) was accidentally signed up — a significant error since noncitizens aren’t allowed to vote.”

Outgoing Rep. Jeff Jones (R-St. Simons Island) dropped legislation (HB270) at the beginning of the 2019 General Assembly session that would have excluded the driver’s license issued to foreigners from the state law on proper identification presented to poll workers. The legislation had an impressive list of cosponsors but never saw so much as a hearing. Thank you for trying, Rep. Jones.

Non-citizen ID should not be “proper ID” at Georgia polls

Along with changing the default state ID, credentials issued to foreigners should clearly illustrate the non-citizen status, not to mention illegal immigration status (Jones had a bill for that, too).

The state legislature should change the laws in 2021.


D.A. King of Marietta is president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society

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