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Latino voters face 'barriers' at polls
Multiple last names one of issues that can lead to need for provisional ballot
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Early voting by the numbers

Hall County — 1,265

Gainesville — 486

Flowery Branch — 99

Clermont — 6

Oakwood — 25

Lula — 12

Buford — 8

Braselton — 2

Note: Totals reflect all ballots cast countywide in the E-SPLOST referendum and a breakdown of turnout for specific municipal elections

More information on Election Day voting

Perhaps you showed up at the wrong polling precinct or forgot your photo identification.

These are common reasons why voters cast provisional ballots, which are counted in Hall County on the Friday after Election Day once eligibility and registration is verified.

For some local Latino voters, however, other reasons are at play.

“Latinos with multiple last names is common,” Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said.

And when last names don’t match up between a driver’s license, for instance, and a voter registration form, problems can arise.

Hyphens are also common in Latino surnames, Gonzalez said, presenting the same kind of trouble.

“It creates unnecessary barriers for Latino voters,” he added.

Gonzalez said he accompanied a new citizen and voter to the Hall County elections office last week.

The last name printed on the voter’s driver’s license did not match the same name on a naturalization certificate or registration form.

“Because the information on his driver’s license and the name listed on the (voter registration) application did not match, a letter was generated to request the last four of his Social Security number,” Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said. “Had he provided this information to us prior to coming to vote, he would have voted as all other registrants.”

Instead, the voter cast a provisional ballot until a state registration system could verify eligibility.

Gonzalez said he believed the elections office had enough information to go on, including a copy of the voter’s naturalization certificate, photo ID and confirmation of place of residence, to allow the voter to cast a regular ballot.

In a complaint letter to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Gonzalez writes, “Given the propensity of Latino last names being hyphenated and having double last names, reliance upon a system verification without human intervention is not an adequate manner in which to provide verification for a U.S. citizen to be able to exercise their right to vote.”

Sosebee said she was just doing her job.

“All of this was explained to Mr. Gonzalez and the voter in question during the disturbed conversation, but was handled as trained and according to law,” she added. “For the record ... he is now an active voter.”

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