SAVANNAH, Ga. – A federal judge says Georgia must make it easier for voters whose registration has been flagged for possible citizenship issues to prove they are U.S. citizens when they go to the polls.

The order Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor L. Ross arose from an October lawsuit by civil rights groups making a broader challenge to Georgia’s “exact match” verification process, which requires that information on voter applications precisely match information in state or federal databases.

The groups argued that voters flagged as potential noncitizens are unfairly burdened because the state says only a deputy registrar can verify proof of citizenship at a polling place.

The judge ruled the requirement threatens “irreparable harm” to some voters. She ordered that poll managers may also clear voters who can prove citizenship.

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