By Justin Wise – Sep 2, 2020
State officials in Georgia are alleged to have wrongfully purged approximately 200,000 people from its voter rolls in 2019, according to a new report commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Georgia chapter.
The report, which was conducted by the nonpartisan Palast Investigative Fund, focused on the Georgia secretary of state’s announcement in October 2019 that it was planning to remove roughly 313,000 citizens from the state’s voter rolls because they had either moved, died or not participated in recent elections.
However, 198,351 Georgia voters were likely removed from the voter rolls even though they did not move from their registration addresses, the report claims, noting it amounts to a 63 percent error rate.
“There are tens of thousands of Georgia voters who have registered, properly maintained a residence in the same county, and nevertheless have had their registration deleted by the state of Georgia,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “We encourage everyone to check their voter status. Many people on this State’s list have every right to assume they are registered to vote. We want you to have time to re-register.”
The Palast Investigative Fund’s findings are the result of an investigation in which the group hired five firms with expertise in address verification to analyze the list of individuals removed from state voter rolls.
The probe included a “detailed name-by-name review” of the citizens eliminated from the rolls. The group claimed that its review found about 3 in 4 voters who were marked on the state’s National Change of Address (NCOA) list “are, in fact, not on the NCOA list.”
The office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.
Raffensperger’s move last year to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the voter roles was met with pushback from advocacy groups, who claimed it amounted to a form of voter suppression.
Raffensperger’s office said at the time that its list of “inactive voters” was composed of people who did not respond to a notice sent to them because they had either moved or had election mail returned undeliverable. His office said that inactive status also applied to people who did not have contact with the election system over the past three years, US News reported.
In response, the voting rights group Fair Fight Action filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify the removal of about 120,000 voters from the rolls. A federal judge in late December rejected its attempt, concluding that the challenge did not show the purges violated the U.S. Constitution, though the lawsuit did lead to the state reinstating about 22,000 voters on the rolls.
The ACLU report released Tuesday alleges that young voters, voters of lower income and citizens of racial groups will be among those most impacted by the voter purges. It also noted that a separate study on the issue will show an “overwhelming concentration” of wrongly-identified movers in counties of the Atlanta Metro area.
Raffensperger has previously described the removal of individuals from the voter rolls as “proper list maintenance” required by law and “important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections.”
“Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote,” Raffensperger said in December 2019, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.