ACLU of Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State May be Canceling Registrations of Some Voters

By JoAnn Merrigan | WSAV3 | October 29, 2019

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new plan from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office to potentially cancel the registrations of more than 300,000 voters has voting rights groups up in arms.

“The state needs to be helping more people vote, not trying to discourage people from voting,” says Andrea Young from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia.

The ACLU of Georgia sued over what it called voter “purging” in 2017. Now it is concerned about a new round of cancellations.

“The last time we challenged this practice by the Secretary of State there were thousands and thousands of these notices that were sent in error,” said Young. “So it’s very important that people check and make sure that mistakes are not being made on their registrations to keep them current and protect their right to vote.”

The Secretary of State’s Office is currently looking at the names of 315,000 voters saying that it’s an effort to serve county election offices that need to know how many voters may show up so they can prepare in terms of voting equipment and staff.

Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office told News 3 that any cancellations are being “done in accordance with federal law, the U.S Supreme Court has upheld this process and it’s to keep voting fair and to have an accurate list.”

Jones told News 3 that about one-third of the people on the list have filed change of address forms with the Postal Service but have not updated voter registration information. He also said about another third are people sent change of address information by county voter registration officials but they have never responded.

Jones added that about 39 percent of those on the list have had “no interaction for 8 to 10 years,” meaning they have not had any contact with voter registration and that may mean they have not voted.

Young takes exception to the idea that voter registration cancellation should be something based on voting, saying that it is a right for anyone registered whenever they choose to exercise it.

“To purge people for not voting is a concern. Georgia doesn’t always make it easy to vote, there could be any number of reasons why people don’t vote, in the last election, for example, there were long lines,” she told News 3.

The Secretary of State’s Office says it will be sending letters to those on the list starting in early November. Recipients will have 30 days to respond.

The State and the ACLU of Georgia seem to agree on one thing — that voters should check their registration status on a regular basis to confirm they are still on the state’s active list.

“It’s very important that people check and make sure that mistakes are not being made on their registrations to keep them current and protect their right to vote,” said Young.