ACLU of Georgia

Letter to Chatham County Board of Registrars

On August 8, 2017, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter of intent to sue to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Chatham County Board of Registrars because of letters the board sent to Thunderbolt resident Jennifer Hill and more than 300 other voters threatening to remove them from the voter rolls.  The letter required each citizen attend an August 30, 2017 meeting to prove their residencies. 

The ACLU said the letters violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which prohibits the removal of voters from the rolls on the ground that they have changed residence unless certain strict requirements.

Without evidence, Thunderbolt and Tybee Island had attempted to remove Ms. Hill and more than 300 other Georgia citizens from government voter rolls based on the assertion that they no longer lived within the municipalities’ boundaries.  The cities said that these citizens’ names were not listed on a water bill.

However, having one’s name listed on a utility bill has never been a requirement for citizens to exercise their sacred right to vote.

“It came out of the blue,” said Hill, 45, an Army veteran and former police officer, whose one-story, beige bungalow sits just around the corner from the Thunderbolt Town Hall — where she voted in November. “I’m on the mortgage. This is my house, too.”

“This is exactly what the NVRA was designed to prevent – voters getting kicked off the rolls without any protections based on an unsubstantiated suspicion that they’ve moved,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. 

Based on the ACLU of Georgia’s letter, Chatham County cancelled the August 30 hearing and sent letters to the affected voters telling them to disregard the previous mailing and clarifying that any voter who received such a notice, “should consider that notice to be withdrawn and should consider the challenge to the voter’s qualifications to be vacated.”

Ms. Hill and other citizens came close to getting kicked off the voter rolls because of a bogus claim that she had moved – the very reason  that these kinds of voter purges are so dangerous.

“We thank the Board of Registrars for responding to our concerns and doing the right thing by the voters of Chatham County,” Andrea Young said. “This is good news for voters and a teachable moment for election authorities around the state. Voters have rights, and we won’t hesitate to defend them.”