Over 300,000 people in Georgia are set to be removed from the state’s voter rolls ― but it won’t happen without a warning.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced Wednesday that the full list of voters at risk of removal is now publicly available. The state has faced scrutiny over its plan to cancel the voter registrations of 313,243 “inactive voters” who are thought to have moved away. Around 65% of the people on the list ― 204,937 in all ― haven’t had contact with election officials in several years, and either didn’t respond to a confirmation mailing or had mail returned as undeliverable. The remaining people on the list filed change-of-address forms with the U.S. Postal Service.
Voting rights groups say the removals are likely to take eligible voters off the rolls and penalize people for not voting. People who choose to vote infrequently and who happen to miss a mailer from the state shouldn’t be removed from the rolls, they say.
You can see the full list of Georgia voters set to be removed from the state’s rolls.
Making the list public gives voting rights groups a chance to contact voters and ensure their registrations aren’t wrongly canceled.
“Now that the Secretary of State has taken our direction and made public the list of over 300,000 voters set to be purged, we will begin the process of analyzing the list to find out which voters are in danger of losing their right to vote and why,” Seth Bringman, a spokesman for Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group led by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, said in a statement.
The Georgia Democratic Party also plans to contact every voter on the list to make sure they don’t get wrongfully removed from the rolls, said Sara Tindall Ghazal, the party’s voter protection director.
“Stripping an individual’s right to vote simply because they choose not to exercise it is anti-democratic,” she said. “The Democratic Party of Georgia is committed to making sure that every one of these affected voters will retain their access to the ballot.”
A similar situation arose in Ohio earlier this year. The state was set to purge about 235,000 people from its rolls in September, but first, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) made public the list of people who would be affected. Voting groups praised the decision, then scoured the names on the list and found thousands of errors.
Federal law requires states to regularly make a general, nondiscriminatory effort to clean their voter rolls ― and it specifically says that a person can’t be removed simply because they haven’t voted.
Georgia has faced scrutiny in recent years over the way it’s gone about removing voters from its rolls. In 2017, Brian Kemp, then the state’s top election official, removed 560,000 people from the rolls ― and about 107,000 of them were removed largely because they hadn’t voted, according to an analysis by APM Reports and WABE. The following year, Kemp defeated Abrams in the state’s gubernatorial race. Abrams and many prominent Democrats say Kemp won that election because of voter suppression.
Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers made changes that offered the state’s voters more protections. Previously, three years of election inactivity would get a voter placed on an “inactive list,” putting them at risk of eventually having their registration purged altogether. However, lawmakers have extended that period to five years.
A new law also requires the state to send a final notice to people who are set to be purged, warning them they have 30 days to update their voter registration. Raffensperger said he would include a prepaid postcard with that mailing to allow people to respond.