Panel: Ga. checks should have been cleared by feds

ATLANTA (AP) -- A three-judge federal panel says Georgia should have sought U.S. Justice Department approval before implementing a new process of using Social Security numbers and driver's license data to check voters' immigration status.

Attorneys were sorting out whether the 27-page ruling means Georgia must immediately stop doing the checks. Voting officials have defended them as a way to verify that citizens are eligible to vote.

The panel on Monday ordered Georgia officials to swiftly notify voters whose names were flagged as ineligible that they can still cast paper ballots on Nov. 4.

Georgia is one of several states that needs federal approval before changing election policy because of a history of discriminatory voting practices.

It also blocks the state from removing flagged names from voter lists unless voters say in writing that they are ineligible.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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