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Voters can now choose who assists them at polls in local, state elections in Georgia
Voters make their way through the line during early voting Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, at the Hall County Government Center. - photo by Austin Steele FCN regional staff

A federal judge signed an order Thursday deciding that in future elections in Georgia, voters who need assistance can be helped by any person of their choice, other than their employer or union.

The order was negotiated by voter Jin Kwon, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and two pro bono law firms, asked the judge to block a Georgia law that limited assistance in non-federal elections to only relatives and people within the precinct.

The Secretary of State’s office has issued guidance to county election officials telling them that voters can get assistance from anyone of their choosing if they are unable to read the ballot without help. There will also be no limit to the amount of people someone can assist.

“This law should have never been passed in the first place, but we are very pleased that the Secretary of State was willing to work with us to swiftly end it,” said Phi Nguyen, litigation director at Advancing Justice-Atlanta, in a statement. “Today is a victory not only for Mr. Kwon but also for all (limited English proficiency) voters across the state of Georgia who will now have the right in every election to bring an interpreter of their choice.”

The order states that county election officials cannot require people assisting voters to check off any boxes on any forms, including those on absentee ballots and absentee ballot envelopes, indicating their relationship with the voter or how many people they have helped. However, officials are not prevented from requiring people assisting voters to identify themselves.

 Compiled from press releases from Georgia Secretary of State Office and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta