(c) Palast Investigate Fund Do not reproduce without permission. Ms. Christine Jordan, a 92-year old Georgia voter and cousin to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., went to the polls in 2018, only to find that her voter registration had been removed from the State’s rolls. She had voted every year since 1968.
ATLANTA – Today, the ACLU of Georgia released a report by the Palast Investigative Fund titled Georgia Voter Roll Purge Errors that concluded the State had likely removed in 2019 the voter registrations of nearly 200,000 Georgia citizens on the grounds that they had moved from the address on their voter registration application.
However, none of these citizens had moved, according to Advanced Address List Hygiene. Unsurprisingly, the state’s removals will likely affect the most vulnerable: young voters, voters of lower income, and citizens of racial groups that have been denied their sacred right to vote in the past. Members of the Georgia General Assembly must rectify this egregious error.
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 makes such purges voluntary for each state. According to the NVRA, a state “may” establish a voter removal program “under which change-of-address information supplied by the Postal Service through its licensees is used to identify registrants whose addresses may have changed.”
In addition to its Postal Service licensee, who accessed the deep history files of the Postal Service – a process required by the Post Office for commercial enterprises such as Amazon and eBay, the Palast Investigative Fund hired the top five expert firms in address verification to scrutinize the list, name-by-name. To do so, they applied Advanced Address List Hygiene, the industry standard for residential address verification, calling on over 240 data sources.
Applying this standard methodology, the Fund found that of the 313,243 Georgia voters who supposedly moved from their registration addresses, 198,351 had not moved. Yet, the State removed their voter registrations.
“One likely source of state error: 3 of 4 voters cancelled who were marked ‘NCOA’ by the Secretary are, in fact, not on the NCOA (National Change-of-Address) list,” the report states. “The fee for the postal and proprietary data bases runs about 5¢ per address—versus a postcard, printed, mailed, postage-paid return plus processing for half a million cards that can run into the millions of dollars – to obtain substantially inaccurate results.”
“There are tens of thousands of Georgia voters who have registered, properly maintained a residence in the same county, and nevertheless have had their registration deleted by the state of Georgia,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We encourage everyone to check their voter status. Many people on this State’s list have every right to assume they are registered to vote. We want you to have time to re-register.”
“The results of our investigation are breathtaking and heartbreaking: 198,000 Georgia citizens wrongly purged from voter rolls—using a system which tends to target younger voters and voters of color. The state claims these voters moved, but the nation’s top experts in address verification say they haven’t,” said journalist Greg Palast, who directed the investigation. “We cannot imagine where the Secretary of State got his ‘mover’ list. But we do know, from our name-by-name review by our experts, the same ones used by Amazon and Home Depot, licensed by the Post Office, that 3 out of 4 names the Secretary of State claims are on the Post Office’s change-of-address registry are not on the Post Office list.”
To allow these citizens who were likely to have been wrongly removed to re-register and restore their ability to vote, the Palast Investigative Fund has created a website where Georgians can look up to see if they are on the purge list at SaveMyVote2020.org.
Following the election, the ACLU of Georgia will work to ensure that the State uses a more accurate list hygiene system that preserves the sacred right to vote for every citizen.