Campaign Legal Center and the League of Women Voters sent a letter on Nov. 8, 2019 to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger expressing grave concerns regarding the planned purge of over 300,000 Georgia voters from the voter registration list. The letter also outlines potential violations of federal and state law.
The letter urges Secretary Raffensperger to halt this planned purge and provide leadership in the next legislative session to remove this unnecessary and disenfranchising practice from Georgia law. It also requests that the secretary promptly provide all records that provide information related to the process and procedures used to identify the planned purged voters in 2019 so that Georgians can understand what precautions the secretary has undertaken to ensure that Georgia voters are not erroneously included on this list. Finally, it submits that the secretary should extend the period for voters subject to cancellation to respond to the final notice from 30 to 60 days as permitted by Georgia law.
The current “use it or lose it” purge policy is not a proper list maintenance activity. It does not accurately identify voters who have moved, died, or otherwise become ineligible to vote. Instead, it punishes voters who have exercised their constitution right not to vote or have faced barriers to voting in recent years. Georgia’s policy should be to encourage infrequent voters to participate in our democracy, not further alienate them by purging them from the rolls and putting up another obstacle to their future participation.
In 2017, an estimated 107,000 voters were removed from the rolls solely because they had not voted in recent elections. According to APM Reports, 70,000 purged Georgia voters re-registered after they were removed from the rolls and the majority of those voters re-registered in the same county as their prior voter registration.
In other words, these voters had not moved or died or otherwise become ineligible — the faulty assumption underlying the “use it or lose it” policy — they were simply purged for not voting. Undoubtedly, tens of thousands of similarly purged Georgia voters also had not moved or died or become ineligible but did not take the step to re-register.
Despite the failure of the 2017 purge, Secretary Raffensperger’s office is poised to remove another 120,561 voters simply because they have not voted in recent years. There is no reason to believe that these individuals do not remain eligible Georgia voters. Georgia has plenty of better tools available at its disposal to identify voters who move, die, or otherwise become ineligible.
Just this year, Georgia became the 26th state to join the Election Registration Information Center (“ERIC”), the premiere system for leveraging reliable data to identify ineligible voters on state voter registration lists. Now that Georgia has this far superior tool for list maintenance, this “use it or lose it” policy makes even less sense.
During the 2018 general election cycle, over 253,000 Georgia voters registered to vote, making our democracy more inclusive and participatory. But with this planned purge, this progress is one step forward, two steps back. Given the evidence provided by APM Reports’ analysis that the policy simply does not accurately capture ineligible voters, Secretary Raffensperger’s office should halt the planned purge.
Read the full letter here.
This post was written by Sheely Edwards, a 2019 CLC Hinckley intern, and student at the University of Utah.