Voter Purges Could Create Another Challenge for Georgia’s Homeless

By Stephannie Stokes | WABE | December 10, 2019 

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Georgia removed a half-million voters from its rolls in 2017. The state deemed them inactive because they hadn’t voted in several elections. 

But many had something else in common.

Nearly 900 voters were registered to the addresses of Atlanta homeless service providers, according to an analysis by WABE and APM Reports. 

As Georgia prepares to cancel another 120,000 registrations for inactivity this month, advocates say the policy represents one of several challenges the state’s voters can face when they don’t have a home.

The Address With The Most Removals
Among all the homeless agencies that saw voters removed from their addresses in 2017, one stands out: Crossroads Community Ministries.

The busiest time at the nonprofit is Monday morning.

Crossroads opens its location on Courtland Street in Midtown Atlanta at 9:30 a.m. after being closed all weekend. People line up in the stairwell at the entrance, waiting for their turn to be called. 

They’re not here for shelter or housing. Down a hallway inside the agency, Executive Director Tony Johns explains how Crossroads is filling a different need for people who are homeless in Atlanta.

“This is our mailroom,” Johns said.

He’s looking into a small room with a couple of volunteers. The walls are covered with instructions for sorting mail.

One by one people approach a counter and say their names. A volunteer then looks for any letters or packages in a series of wood bins lined up along the back wall.

Voter completing paperwork.

Crossroads Community Ministries volunteer Ann Kimsey helps Tommy Steward retrieve mail. The Midtown Atlanta nonprofit operates like a post office for people who are homeless. In 2017, Georgia removed nearly 500 voters who were registered to its address for inactivity. 

CREDIT BITA HONARVAR /  SPECIAL TO WABE