Hopkins v. Kemp
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections on behalf of Stacey Hopkins, a registered voter and Atlanta resident who was sent an illegal purge notice from election authorities after she moved within the same county. Even though Hopkins filed a change-of-address form with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), she received a threatening notice that she would be deemed “inactive” if she did not take steps to maintain her registration.
Under state law, registered voters who inform USPS that they have moved within the same county must have their voter registration information automatically updated without requiring further action on the voter’s part. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 also prohibits these kinds of purge notices to voters who move within the same county.
The ACLU of Georgia’s lawsuit asked the Fulton County Superior Court to compel voting authorities to update Hopkins’ address and the addresses of all other voters who moved within the county as soon as possible well in advance of this year’s elections. Media reports indicated that similar notices had been sent out to hundreds of thousands of voters across the state.
On July 11, 2017, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Fulton County Board of Elections and Registration demanding an explanation for why Stacey Hopkins, a registered voter and Atlanta resident, received a notice suggesting that she would be purged from the rolls if she did not take steps to maintain her registration.
According to the Atlanta Daily World, Fulton County appeared to have admitted that they sent these purge notices to more than 45,000 registered voters “who have moved within the county over the past 2 years.” Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, it is unlawful to issue these kinds of purge notices or require any affirmative action of registered voters who move within the same county.
The ACLU also sent a second notice to sue on behalf of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, the Georgia NAACP and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.
On November 30, 2017, the ACLU of Georgia filed a motion to add Secretary of State Brian Kemp as a defendant to the lawsuit centered on elections officials’ attempt to remove illegally nearly 160,000 registered Georgia voters from the active voter rolls earlier that year.
Each of the registered Georgia voters had moved within the same county in the last four years and filed an appropriate change of address with the U.S. Postal Service. Under state – and federal – law, their residential addresses should have been automatically updated on the voter rolls. Instead, election officials broke the law and sent out notices threatening to remove these Georgia voters from the active voter rolls if they did not respond in 30 days.
On the eve of a final court date, Secretary of State Brian Kemp finally agreed to comply with state and federal law that require him to update automatically the addresses of Georgia voters who move within the same county. With this settlement, Kemp agreed to update the addresses of voters who had moved within the same county in the last 2 years, mail them new precinct cards, and create a system to ensure that this never occurs again.
Fulton County Superior Court
July 28, 2017
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia, Inc.
ACLU Voting Rights Project